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Goethals’ Infrastructure Challenge Part 2: The Challenge Begins

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Innovative Pedagogy and Assessment in Civil Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.646.1 - 24.646.15



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Paper Authors

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Berndt Spittka P.E. U.S. Military Academy


Erik R. Wright PE U.S. Military Academy

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Major Erik Wright is an Instructor in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy. Erik’s civilian education includes a BS in Civil Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, a Master’s of Civil Engineering from Norwich University and a MS in Civil Engineering from Purdue University. MAJ Wright is a Registered Professional Engineer in Indiana. MAJ Wright’s military education includes the Engineer Officer Basic Course, Maneuver Captain’s Career Course and the Joint Engineer Operations Course. Erik has served three one-year tours in Baghdad, Iraq with the most recent tour ending in June 2010. During that tour, Erik was an Infrastructure Analyst with various infrastructure related duties such as data collection and management, condition analyses of infrastructure systems, and functional subject matter expert for validating national critical infrastructure assets. Past assignments include: Forward Engineer Support Team – Main Detachment Commander; Platoon Leader; Infrastructure Analyst at Corps Level; Civil Engineer, Plans Officer and Logistics Officer at Battalion Level. Erik’s Current research focuses on the construction of nuclear facilities and the criticality of infrastructure systems. He is an active member of the American Society for Engineering Education, the American Society of Civil Engineers and a life member of the Society of America Military Engineers. He has been married to his wife Melissa for 10 years and has two children, Alexander (9) and Merideth (6).

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Steven D Hart U.S. Military Academy

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Evan Hansen

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Goethals’ Infrastructure Challenge Part 2: The Challenge BeginsStudents will do just about anything that is asked of them, if their professors are willing to ask. TheGoethals’ Infrastructure Challenge (GIC) was designed to inspire students envision a better future,unleash their creativity, and apply their social, technical, political, and economic skills to address a“wicked problem.” Building on work from last year, West Point in conjunction with the US ArmyEngineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), the Peter Kiewit Institute (PKI) at theUniversity of Nebraska-Omaha, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Brigham Young University, Vanderbilt University and Utah State University completed thesmall and large scale pilot tests the GIC with stellar results. The focus of these pilots was to prove theconcept of an online based, open-ended question competition’s ability to inspire students to achieveunique and applicable solutions to some of our most complex infrastructure problems, while meetingsome of the most challenging ABET student outcomes required of Civil Engineering programs. Usingproven metrics for evaluating student performance, the GIC pilots have shown that the nature of CivilEngineering student competitions is only limited by the creativity of those who are asking the studentsthe questions. During these pilots, the students were able, in a four day competition, to create asolution to a wicked problem that encompassed not only a technical solution, but also address theproblem’ s , political, social and economic aspects. The results show that once the students are askedthe question they will try to (and do) rise to whatever challenge is presented to them. With successfulpilots completed, the GIC will be offered nationwide starting in the spring of 2015.

Spittka, B., & Wright, E. R., & Hart, S. D., & Hansen, E. (2014, June), Goethals’ Infrastructure Challenge Part 2: The Challenge Begins Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20537

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