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Implementing Historically Constrained Student Design Build Project In An Austere Environment

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Design for Community

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.638.1 - 7.638.10



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Paper Authors

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Kevin Grant

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Ronald Welch

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Main Menu Session 2625

Implementing a Historically Constrained Student Design-Build Project in an Austere Environment

LTC Ronald W. Welch 1LT Kevin Grant United States Military Academy


This paper describes a one-semester design-build capstone project in which three senior civil engineering (CE) students designed and built two timber pedestrian bridges at an extremely challenging, remote site. Design and construction was completed as part of a course within the ABET-accredited CE program at the U.S. Military Academy (USMA). The client was the custodian for the historic site under the oversight of the Director of Housing and Public Works (DHPW) at West Point, New York. The team addressed public accessibility to an American Revolutionary War outpost through construction of timber bridges to carry a trail across an intermittent stream and a particularly steep, rocky slope. The site is located on the island directly across from West Point.

A detailed description of the bridge project sets the stage for presentation of the key educational benefits gained by the students who completed it. Student assessment data demonstrates that such projects contribute much, not only to students’ learning, but to student’s motivation and self-awareness as well. A design-build project in an austere environment forces the students to develop resourcefulness, perseverance, adaptability, and creativity. This project was within the capabilities of senior civil engineering students and represented a unique opportunity for a culminating design experience incorporating real-world considerations of health and safety, constructability, usability/sustainability, historical and environmental sensitivity, economics, political, social, ethical, and aesthetics.

I. Introduction

As long ago as the Revolutionary War, West Point, New York (Figure 1) has been critical to our nation’s defense. In the late Eighteenth Century, the high ground flanking the Hudson River

Figure 1: Constitution Island (left) and West Point (right)

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Grant, K., & Welch, R. (2002, June), Implementing Historically Constrained Student Design Build Project In An Austere Environment Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10192

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