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Multi Story Steel Structures: Making Sure Students Understand The Design Process

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Technical Issues in Architectural Engineering I

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Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1086.1 - 12.1086.8



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John Phillips Oklahoma State University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

“Multi-Story Steel Structures: Making Sure Students Understand the Design Process” John J. Phillips, P.E. Associate Professor, Oklahoma State University


In the spring semester of the fourth year of the architectural engineering curriculum, students take the intermediate steel design course. During this course, the students apply the knowledge they have gained in the beginning design course, and are expected to go through the process of designing and documenting a steel structure. This process includes an entire steel building design, from building code research through preliminary and final design of a steel structure to production of construction documents for the project.

Historically this course has centered around a steel building design project in which student teams where responsible for the design and documentation of the steel structure. Based on that course model, problems became apparent in subsequent structural design courses and in the comprehensive design studio. These problems included the fact that a large percentage of the students were not aware of the structural design process necessary to complete a building design. A recent change has been made in the course to help alleviate this problem. Each student is now responsible for the design and documentation of the entire structural steel building. They are also each expected to complete all phases of the design and documentation process.

We must be able to assess whether this new course format is providing the students with a more favorable understanding of the design process, and whether it is preparing them for the subsequent design courses in the curriculum. To help facilitate this assessment, at the end of the semester, each student is given a questionnaire to help assess their knowledge as it pertains to the design process and the intended outcomes of this course. This paper will look at the questionnaire presented to the students from both course formats, and will discuss the results of the questionnaire and how they may be used to improve the success of the intermediate steel design course. Introduction There are several issues that must be considered when an instructor decides to assign a team project in a structural design course, particularly one that encompasses the total design process for a building structure. There are pros and cons of assigning a team project, and these must be weighed along with the potential benefits for the students in the course. In addition, the student needs to understand the design process in the course so that future structural design courses which employ the same basic processes and techniques will not suffer from lack of student knowledge that should have been learned in the first design course. As noted by Thomas J. Shuell, “It is helpful to remember that what the student does is actually more important in determining what is learned than what the teacher does” 1, thus the format used for many years was changed so that each student would be exposed to all phases of the structural design process.

Phillips, J. (2007, June), Multi Story Steel Structures: Making Sure Students Understand The Design Process Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2394

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