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Innovative Approach to Teaching Applied Structures Courses

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Use of Technology in Civil Engineering Courses

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


Nicole Martino Roger Williams University

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Dr. Nicole Martino is an assistant professor of engineering at Roger Williams University. Her area of expertise is civil engineering, more specifically structural engineering. Dr. Martino's current research areas include developing innovative tools to improve the learnability of topics in heavy analytical courses, and developing rapid, accurate and efficient bridge deck condition assessment models using ground penetrating radar.

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Amine Ghanem Roger Williams University

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Dr. Ghanem is a Professor at Roger Williams University where he teaches engineering and construction management courses.He hold a Professional Engineer License from California and he is highly involved in professional societies like American Society of Civil Engineering and Construction Management Association of America.
Aside from teaching, he has 10 years of experience in the field of construction engineering.he was highly involved in Civil/Construction Management projects, where I performed design, estimate, and schedule for various projects. Also, he assisted in the development of project proposals by securing project specifications from clients and communicating the same to design teams.

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Developing innovative approaches for teaching structures courses to engineering students, in addition to those in an alternate major (construction management, architecture, etc.) is a staple in the curriculum. One of the most common techniques used by instructors to demonstrate various concepts is by using props. While those can be effective, instructors are looking for a more digital approach that students can learn and replicate on their own. Current cohorts of students are incredibly tech savvy, and have the ability to quickly understand how to use computer programs, and the like. The advantages of knowing computer-aided applications include; increasing students’ credentials while adding skills needed to attract future employers, and that students can call upon these tools in their future (after college) for help with finding the solution to a difficult problem. Firstly, this paper presents the methodology used to develop interactive images, using SolidWorks and Microsoft PowerPoint to help students better visualize and understand concepts associated with structures courses. Next, the paper discusses the effectiveness of these tools by providing the results of two student surveys. The first survey asked a cohort of students currently enrolled in a structural analysis course to rate their understanding of a list of topics associated with structural analysis and previous engineering mechanics courses. That cohort of students was then presented with a limited subset of digital animations developed using SolidWorks and Microsoft PowerPoint and was asked to complete the same survey again. One month of time existed between the two surveys. The difference in the two surveys showed an increased level of understanding in every assessed category. A direct assessment of exam grades also displayed the effectiveness of the interactive images.

Martino, N., & Ghanem, A. (2016, June), Innovative Approach to Teaching Applied Structures Courses Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25717

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