Asee peer logo

Hurricane Katrina: A Research Based Course For Engineering And Non Engineering Honors Students

Download Paper |


2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Hurricane Katrina

Tagged Division

Ocean and Marine

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.706.1 - 11.706.9



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Charles Pierce University of South Carolina

visit author page

Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

Hurricane Katrina: A Research-Based Course for Engineering and Non-Engineering Honors Students Introduction

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita damaged much of the civil infrastructure along the Gulf Coast, especially in the historic city of New Orleans. Reconstruction efforts and planning for future hurricanes in this region will fall on the shoulders of civil engineers. Most university students, even civil engineering students, do not understand the broad and complex role that civil engineers play in disaster planning and recovery efforts.

To this end, a research-based course entitled Civil Engineering in the Wake of Katrina is being taught during the Spring 2006 semester at the University of South Carolina. This course developed, in part, from the author’s involvement with a service learning relief effort in Biloxi, MS to clean up after Hurricane Katrina1. The course was opened to both engineering and non- engineering students in the South Carolina Honors College. It is intended to 1) introduce the discipline of civil and environmental engineering to both engineering and non-engineering students, in light of conditions in the Gulf Coast before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina; and 2) provide a real hands-on research experience for exceptional students, which allows them to explore the many facets of civil and environmental engineering. It should be noted that this course is not an engineering course per se; rather, it is an honors proseminar taught by an engineering professor.

Course Logistics

The South Carolina Honors College was founded in 1977 and is now recognized as one of the top honors programs in the country. The Honors College offers an enriched academic experience under the general rubric of Research Based Learning (RBL). The experience combines the benefits of a small liberal arts college with the opportunities of a comprehensive university. Like a liberal arts college, honors classes are limited in size and designed to involve students more actively in their own education.

This particular honors course was limited to 12 students for two reasons. First, the author wanted to ensure that each student had ample opportunities to actively participate in class discussions. Second, the author wanted to teach the course in a small, multimedia conference room instead of a traditional classroom. A total of ten students registered for the course, and the distribution of those students is shown in Table 1. Eight of the ten students are engineering students, and five of them are in the civil and environmental engineering program. The remaining two students are majoring in accounting and political science. It should be noted that one of the non-engineering students has an engineering background within his family. This student considered pursuing an engineering degree but chose to study political science. The other non-engineering student is from Kenner, LA, which is located just west of downtown New Orleans. His motivation for taking the course is an obvious one: to learn what it will take for New Orleans to recover and rebuild, and to see that through the eyes of engineering. His family was fortunate to survive with little damage to their home. However, his brother is an engineering student at Tulane University and was displaced for the fall semester.

Pierce, C. (2006, June), Hurricane Katrina: A Research Based Course For Engineering And Non Engineering Honors Students Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--969

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2006 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015