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Homebrewing 101: A Vital Part Of A Civil Engineering Program!

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Civil Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.645.1 - 15.645.15



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Paper Authors


Scott Hamilton United States Military Academy

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Scott Hamilton is an active duty Army officer and Assistant Professor and Group Director in the Department of Civil& Mechanical Engineering at the US Military Academy at West Point, where he has served on the faculty for a total of over 9 years. As an officer in the US Army Corps of Engineers for over 26 years he has served in a variety of assignments in the US, Germany, Korea, and Afghanistan. He has been brewing beer and teaching others to brew for the last 16 years. Scott has been active with ASCE Student Chapters, on both the local and national level. He is a graduate of West Point and has graduate degrees from Stanford University; he is a licensed PE in California.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Homebrewing 101: A Vital Part of a Civil Engineering Program!


In this paper the author shares his experience over several years of teaching civil engineering students to brew beer. This fun exercise, named HB101 (Homebrewing 101) by the students, was initially designed solely as a fun social event, but has become a beneficial extracurricular teaching tool that adds value to the overall civil engineering program at the United States Military Academy at West Point. More importantly, however, it addresses a substantive national issue that also affects young engineers; abuse of alcohol. The author briefly discusses how the “course” came about, its set up, and how it applies engineering methods to this task and creates ties to some of the scientific and engineering concepts learned in other settings. The main emphasis of the paper is on the ways this course has become an important, yet informal, part of the CE program, however. The author seeks to answer the question: “Is proper use of alcohol a valid topic for instructing civil engineers, and if so, is HB101 an effective way to influence the attitudes of young civil engineers on the proper use of alcohol?” The paper reviews the critical literature on young adult drinking behavior, changing social behavior, and changing attitudes. Using this seemingly counterintuitive approach, the paper discusses how teaching students to brew beer is one way that may actually help combat this national issue, and possibly change drinking behavior, and in so doing helps to foster fulfillment of an important part of the ASCE Body of Knowledge, chiefly “Attitudes”. The author also uses current teaching research to show how this activity helps to foster greater learning in the more traditional parts of the civil engineering program by strengthening the students’ commitment to the program as well as improving the professors’ rapport with their students. Finally, through anecdotal evidence and student surveys the author shares data to point to the successes and actual achievement of these goals. While not actually advocating that teaching homebrewing become a required part of all civil engineering programs, the author does believe that there are valuable lessons that can be applied to all programs from this creative effort to further educate civil engineering students.


Since students have been brewing beer as a semi-formal part of the CE program at the United States Military Academy at West Point the school’s program has consistently been ranked #2 in the nation by US News & World Report, received ASCE’s 2009 Walter LeFerve Award, the ASCE Student Chapter has an unmatched consistent record of awards, and the school was recently selected as the top college by Forbes magazine. Is this record of success directly related to brewing beer with students? Probably not, but it obviously has not hurt the program and the author argues it addresses an important issue and does contribute to the program’s widely recognized success.

During the mid 1990s the author picked up a new hobby, brewing beer at home or “homebrewing.” Not surprisingly, word got out among his students of their professor’s hobby. Quite informally several students would come over to his home in the evenings, on nights when no assignments required immediate work of course, and learned to brew beer. Naturally, this activity had to be limited to those over 21 years of age. The next year the informal program grew in popularity and was tied into the ASCE Student Chapter’s end of the year celebration, where

Hamilton, S. (2010, June), Homebrewing 101: A Vital Part Of A Civil Engineering Program! Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16162

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