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Experiential Learning in the Civil Engineering Curriculum: Collaborations between Community Colleges, Research I Universities and National Laboratories

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Experience in Assessing Technological Literacy

Tagged Division

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.570.1 - 23.570.12



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Paper Authors


Claire L. Antaya Arizona State University Orcid 16x16


Kristen Parrish PhD Arizona State University

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Kristen Parrish is an Assistant Professor in the School of Sustainability and the Built Environment at Arizona State University (ASU). Kristen’s work focuses on integrating energy efficiency measures into building design, construction, and operations processes. She has published journal articles, conference papers, and technical guides on novel design processes that financially and technically facilitate energy-efficient buildings. She has also published articles that explore how principles of lean manufacturing facilitate energy-efficiency in the commercial building industry. Kristen strives to bring research experience into the classroom, and her education research focuses on integrating curriculums across courses, institutions, and research areas. Prior to joining ASU, Kristen was at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) as a Postdoctoral Fellow (2009-11) and then a Scientific Engineering Associate (2011-2012) in the Building Technologies and Urban Systems Department. She worked in the Commercial Buildings group, where her responsibilities included managing two staff, developing energy efficiency programs, and researching the technical and non-technical barriers to energy efficiency in the buildings sector. She has a background in collaborative design and integrated project delivery. She holds a BS and MS in Civil Engineering from the University of Michigan and a PhD in Civil Engineering from UC Berkeley.

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Elizabeth A Adams P.E. Chandler Gilbert Community College

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Amy E. Landis Arizona State University

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Experiential Learning in the Civil Engineering Curriculum: Collaborations between Community Colleges, Research I Universities and National LaboratoriesThe next generation of engineering professionals must be prepared to solve complex andmultidisciplinary problems in a sustainable and global context. Universities of the future call fora transformation of higher education, creating an institution that is committed to excellence,access and impact where students and faculty link to local and regional issues and undertakeapplied sustainability challenges that impact the social, environmental, and economic evolutionof the geographic locale. However, according to a survey at Arizona State University, manyuniversity-educated engineers do not feel prepared to address these challenges. Communitycollege-educated engineers, whose curriculum traditionally focuses on engineeringapplication, overwhelmingly agree. Students in traditional civil engineering classes grasp theimportance of communication, but don’t feel they get enough experience during theircourses. Students feel a lack of real world experiences is a critical deficiency in theireducation. Faculty from two- and four-year institutions and researchers atnational laboratories are piloting curriculum that brings contextualized experience into theclassroom, allowing students at both institutions to deepen their "real-world understanding"while simultaneously informing faculty research in sustainability.This paper examines the creation of resource and module sets that make it easy for faculty toincorporate challenges and experiential learning into higher education classrooms, with the aimof attracting and retaining a talented and diverse set of students who are more prepared to tacklethe engineering challenges of a global economy. Arizona State University faculty collaborationwith Mesa Community College faculty and Lawrence Berkley National Laboratoryresearchers collaboration with Laney College faculty enabled the development of learningmodules for incorporation into courses where research themes and/or active learning are nottypically present at either the university or community college setting. The learningmodules employ experiential learning through team-based activities in accordance withrecommendations of the National Research Council (NRC) pertaining to improving education inscience, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Many types ofexperiential learning were employed within the learning modules. The learning modules tested inthis paper integrate service learning, active learning, and project-based learning. As a result,traditional university and community college engineering courses were updated with a dynamicmix of experiential learning and hands-on laboratory experiments that are infused with real-world interactions. The outcome of this experiential learning fusion was assessed via formativeand summative student surveys to evaluate students' interest and perceptions of sustainability andtheir engagement in their learning environment. The effectiveness of the learning modules inachieving learning objectives was assessed via analysis of students' work. Data was statisticallyanalyzed to determine whether the institutionalization plan was successful acrosscampuses. Data informing refinement of the learning modules for any additional improvementswill enable future scale-up with new faculty members for year two of the experiential learninginitiative to further addresses the growing challenges of the current curriculums.

Antaya, C. L., & Parrish, K., & Adams, E. A., & Landis, A. E. (2013, June), Experiential Learning in the Civil Engineering Curriculum: Collaborations between Community Colleges, Research I Universities and National Laboratories Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19584

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