Asee peer logo

Mini-Project Explorations to Develop Steel and Concrete Gravity System Design Skills

Download Paper |


2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Perceptions, Projects, and Practical Approaches

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Ryan Solnosky P.E. Pennsylvania State University, University Park

visit author page

Ryan Solnosky is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of Architectural Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University at University Park. Dr. Solnosky started at Penn State in July of 2013 and has taught courses for Architectural Engineering, Civil Engineering, and Pre-Major Freshman in Engineering. He received his integrated Professional Bachelor of Architectural Engineering/Master of Architectural Engineering (BAE/MAE) degrees in architectural engineering from The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, in 2009, and his Ph.D. in architectural engineering from The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA in 2013. Dr. Solnosky is also a licensed Professional Engineer in PA.
Ryan is also an advisor for Penn State’s National AEI Student Competition teams. His research interests include: integrated structural design methodologies and processes; Innovative methods for enhancing engineering education; and high performing wall enclosures. These three areas look towards the next generation of building engineering, including how systems are selected, configured and designed.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Core undergraduate steel and concrete courses focus their content on the fundamentals of analyzing and designing members. While this builds the core knowledge of a structural engineer, many times the examples, homework, and exams look at isolated systems and/or members to convey these topics. It is often up to the capstone to connect members to systems; yet, there is often a gap between offerings. If larger picture systems can adopted earlier, then stronger connections to the topic while also informing students of real project complexity has potential. This paper discusses a two offerings of a yearlong piloted approach to introduce a simplified yet realistic set of mini-projects across two back-to-back semester structural courses. Here, these mini-projects were developed based on best-practice design papers and rules of thumb for design in each material, including procedures used to teach architecture students structures. To limit complexity and align with the course topics, gravity bays were the focus of the mini-projects implementing a real campus building. Through teams of two students, these projects have students cycle through conceptual layouts and sizing of gravity systems in both steel and concrete, then at the end of the year, they try to evaluate which systems are most applicable. Results to date have shown that this approach does fill in the gap between design courses and capstones without getting too detailed in the calculations that a capstone might require. The evaluation discussed includes student survey data on their experiences that will be correlated to assessment grades. This paper will also provide suggestions for others in how to formulate and adopt such mini-projects.

Solnosky, R. (2020, June), Mini-Project Explorations to Develop Steel and Concrete Gravity System Design Skills Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34975

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2020 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015