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Humorous Engineering 101

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.545.1 - 6.545.23

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Paper Authors

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Larry Cartwright

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

Paper 2081


Larry Cartwright Carnegie Mellon University


The Senior Design course is taught to Carnegie Mellon students each fall. This capstone course is required for all Civil and Environmental Engineering majors. The course concentrates on teaching the three levels of the design process by using projects that relate to the core areas of the discipline. This paper will provide an overview of the course with emphasis on the final design/build project. This project is humorous in nature and is eagerly anticipated by the students. Five examples of past projects will be presented. The paper will conclude with a discussion on creating these projects and the benefits they provide.


When people think of Civil Engineering design, they usually think first of designing a bridge. The process of design is much more encompassing. The object of the design does not necessarily have to be an artifact or facility; it may also be a process. A civil engineer may design a bridge, or a building, or a highway intersection, or water or wastewater treatment plant or a process for remediating a contaminated landfill. While the products of these designs are dissimilar, the design process used is the same in each. It starts with a conceptual design, proceeds to a preliminary design and culminates with a detailed design. As teams create designs, team building and presentation are essential parts of the process. The course described herein concentrates on teaching the levels of design, team building and presentation.

Course Overview

The Senior Design course is presented as four projects: an introductory project, a conceptual design project, a preliminary design project and a detailed design/build project. Typical subject areas of the projects are structural, environmental and planning/management. Group progress reports and final reports are required for each project. In addition, each group has one poster presentation and each student has one oral presentation during the semester.

The introductory two-week project is meant to show the students how difficult the design process is. Four or five students are chosen at random to form a group. They are

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Cartwright, L. (2001, June), Humorous Engineering 101 Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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