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Interactive Online Figures for the Core Concepts in Structural Steel Design

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Best in 5 Minutes: Demonstrating Interactive Teaching Activities

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


Joel Lanning P.E. University of California, Irvine Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Joel Lanning​ specializes in​ seismic design of civil structures such as bridges and buildings. His research focuses on the development of tools and methods used in structural design and those used in experimental physical testing aimed at improving structural resilience during an earthquake. Lanning is passionate about teaching and is also focused on research and development of strategies to use in the classroom. His teaching philosophy includes building a strong learning community within each class and the use of high-impact practices to engage and challenge his students. ​

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Julia Badrya University of California, Irvine

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Julia Badrya is a graduate student and teaching assistant at UCI, studying structural engineering. During her undergrad, she worked as a tutor and manager of a tutoring center. Julia is passionate about education and exploring ways to enhance the learning experience.

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This paper presents online interactive resources, or applets, covering the core concepts in an undergraduate structural steel design course. They were developed for AISC's Educator Resources website using GeoGebra, an online and open source platform. The applets are intended to promote learning in steel design by cultivating a rich visual connection between AISC specification equations and the related engineering concepts. Many parameters involved in the simulated scenarios can be controlled by the user, allowing them to manipulate the items and visually gain familiarity with the relationship each parameter has with the mechanism being demonstrated. This is intended to combat the “plug-and-chug” mentality to which students often succumb in design courses. These interactive depictions of structural members, relevant plots, and animations provide students a unique online study aid. Further, instructors can use these tools during lectures or as customizable homework assignments. Currently, the available applets cover basic concepts in steel framing, flow of forces, steel material behavior, and limit states and design of tension members and simple connections. Applets are currently under construction that cover compression members, bending members, and members subjected to combined loading. This paper provides a brief description of each applet and suggestions about how best to utilize them in a steel design course. Finally, some preliminary student opinion data is presented showing their effectiveness in teaching.

(Author note, this paper is proposed for the "Best in 5" category, as the tools have only just been developed and not much data on effectiveness has been collected yet. )

Lanning, J., & Badrya, J. (2021, July), Interactive Online Figures for the Core Concepts in Structural Steel Design Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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