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Project Based Teaching A Steel Design Course

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1022.1 - 9.1022.10



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Mousa Gargari

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


Project-Based Steel Design Course

Mousa Tabatabai-Gargari

University of Cincinnati


This paper presents an alternative method to teach an undergraduate course in steel design. This method has been experimented for two quarters at the University Of Cincinnati College Of Applied Science. The idea is centered on a project where the structural elements are designed following the flow of gravity forces from the deck to the ground, while paying close attention to the way loads transfer from one member to another. The focus is on the interaction of the elements as well as the role of each element in the entire structural system. This is a three credit undergraduate course in a quarter system. The role of the professor has been more like consulting as opposed to lecturing. Design of the projects required about the same amount of time that would be spent for designing example problems for individual members in a traditional lecture. Adoption of this method did not increase the workload of the professor. The course evaluations by the students confirm that this method has been effective in facilitating and enhancing their learning process, as well as creating interest and participation.


A typical undergraduate steel design course normally covers fundamentals such as failure modes and design criteria of tension members, compression members, flexural members, as well as connections, packaged in various chapters of a textbook. Usually each chapter is taught as a separate entity, thus few students get the idea of interaction between structural elements and the purpose of analysis and design of individual structural members. It is not uncommon to hear some students question the purpose and necessity of having to learn such topics. The traditional method of lecture does not present the students with the big picture, where the role of each structural member is clearly identified in conjunction with the entire system.

To address this shrotcoming some programs offer a structural systems course that follows the steel design course, here the interaction between structural elements is introduced. Although the structural systems course serves the purpose of explaining the role of each member in conjunction with the other members, however it takes place too late in the program, and thus does not serve the purpose of efficiently describing the function of the structure as a system. Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Gargari, M. (2004, June), Project Based Teaching A Steel Design Course Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13619

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