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Implementing A Student Design Build Project In One Semester

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Instructional Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.693.1 - 9.693.11



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Paper Authors

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Ronald Welch

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

Session 2615

Implementing a Student Design-Build Project in One Semester

COL Ronald W. Welch 2LT Brian J. Meister United States Military Academy


This paper describes a one-semester design-build capstone project in which three senior civil engineering (CE) students designed, completed an environmental assessment, gained approval, and built a 28-foot timber pedestrian bridge. The course was taken as part of the ABET- accredited CE program at the U.S. Military Academy. The team addressed public accessibility to the only maintenance break area through construction of a timber bridge to replace the deteriorated foot bridge that had carried workers across an intermittent stream. With the loss of the previous foot bridge, the break/smoking area was accessed by walking along the busy motor pool entrance road (safety) to the vehicle bridge crossing the stream (time). The narrow vehicular bridge, which is located on a sharp bend in the road, is over 50 yards from the maintenance facility while the break area is located a mere 10 yards away on the other side of the stream.

Key educational benefits gained by the students who completed it include grappling with real- world constraints, solving substantial engineering problems, dealing with issues of safety and constructability, coping with construction management difficulties such as placing the concrete with a 1 cubic yard mixer and bags of concrete, miscommunication, delayed construction approval, and most importantly, bringing a project from concept through completion. Student assessment data demonstrates that such projects contribute much, not only to students’ learning, but to student’s motivation and self-awareness as well. Any design-build project forces the students to develop resourcefulness, perseverance, adaptability, and creativity. One student’s comment: “I learned more in this course than any other I have taken in the program.”

I. Introduction

One of the many pillars of any educational endeavor is to gain understanding from doing—to experience firsthand the methods and principles learned in countless hours of classroom instruction and individual study. Such opportunities often present themselves in unexpected or seemingly insignificant places. Masked behind West Point’s pristine landscape is an organization that goes largely unnoticed due to its behind-the-scenes role in USMA’s daily operations. However, without this facility, some of the Academy’s basic functions would not be possible. The Transportation Motor Pool (TMP) provides the mechanical and technical support to hundreds of vehicles not only used for cadet training, but also for the daily upkeep of West Point’s cherished grounds, historic structures, and winding roads.

Meandering beside the TMP maintenance garage, a small intermittent stream restricts access to the employee break area on the far shore. Because of the high safety risk and stress involved in operating tools and large machinery in the maintenance area, the necessity of providing breaks to

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Welch, R. (2004, June), Implementing A Student Design Build Project In One Semester Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13912

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