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Introducing Freshmen Engineering Students to Civil Engineering at the University of Florida

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Introducing New Methodologies and the Incoming Students to Engineering Programs

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

23.817.1 - 23.817.10



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Paper Authors


Zhang Lei University of Florida

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Ms Lei Zhang is the graduate students at University of Florida (UF). She earned her BSCE in 2010 from the Tongji University, in her place of birth, Shanghai, China. After that, she came to the United States and is doing her Master degree in civil engineering. She was the instructor for the STEP-UP program for the College of Engineering at UF and was awarded the most outstanding instructor. She is the teaching assistant for the Introduction to Engineering, Public Works Planning. Lei is also active in professional societies and demonstrates her leadership. She is the member of American Society of Civil Engineering (ASCE), Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE). She is also the Fundraising Chairman of Women Transportation Seminar (WTS) Student Chapter at UF.

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Fazil T. Najafi University of Florida

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For more than forty years, Dr. Fazil T. Najafi has worked in government, industry and education. He earned a B.S.C.E. in 1963 from the American College of Engineering, in his place of birth, Kabul, Afghanistan, and since then came to the United States with a Fulbright scholarship earning his MS in civil engineering in 1972 and a Ph.D. degree in transportation in 1977. His experience in industry includes work as a highway, structural, mechanical, and consultant engineer and construction manager for government groups and private companies. Najafi went on to teaching, first becoming an assistant professor at Villanova University, Pennsylvania in 1977, a visiting professor at George Mason University, and then to the University of Florida, Department of Civil Engineering, where he advanced to associate professor in 1991 and then full professor in 2000 in the Department of Civil and Coastal Engineering. He has received numerous awards including a scholarship award (Fulbright), teaching awards, best paper awards, community service awards, and admission as an Eminent Engineer into Tau Beta Pi. His research on passive radon-resistant new residential building construction was adapted in HB1647 building code of Florida Legislature. Najafi is a member of numerous professional societies and has served on many committees and programs, and continuously attends and presents refereed papers at international, national, and local professional meetings and conferences. Lastly, Najafi attends courses, seminars and workshops, and has developed courses, videos and software packages during his career. His areas of specialization include transportation planning and management, legal aspects, construction contract administration, and public works.

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Introducing Freshmen Engineering Students to Civil Engineering at the University of FloridaCivil engineering is a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design,construction and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, includingworks such as bridges, roads, canals, dams and buildings.An Introduction to Engineering is a one credit course offered to all engineering freshmenat the college of engineering at the University of Florida. This course introduces thestudents to the eleven departments that offer undergraduate degrees. The class breaksstudents into groups of 20 and rotates the groups weekly through each department.During the department visit, the students participate in two-or three hour hands – onexperimental laboratory classes. The truss bridge laboratory is a part of this one credithour course offered to the freshmen engineering students by the Civil and CoastalEngineering department. The purpose of the laboratory is to familiarize students with theconcept, theory and practical side of the civil engineering and is focused on aidingstudents in the process of making an informed decision for their futures. This paper isfocused on procedure of the laboratory as well as how the resulted data can be utilized inreal-life projects. After each team of five students build their truss, the truss is loadeduntil it failed. Record of the failure load, score, and final score were kept and the winnerteam got a prize of Gator pens. The type and the shape of the trusses, location of thefailures are kept in the data base for analysis. The results showed that Warren truss typesare stronger and most cost effective. Students enjoyed interacting with their teammembers in building their bridges and learned about civil engineering.

Lei, Z., & Najafi, F. T. (2013, June), Introducing Freshmen Engineering Students to Civil Engineering at the University of Florida Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19831

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