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Simulating Consulting Engineer Relationships In A Senior Design Course And Assessing The Results

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Civil Engineering Teaching Part One

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1079.1 - 13.1079.13



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Paper Authors

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Michael Bronzini George Mason University


Michael Casey George Mason University

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Michael J. Casey is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Infrastructure Engineering at George Mason University in the area of Construction and Project Management. Dr. Casey's research interests are in sensor networks for infrastructure security and management and civil applications of geospatial technology. He holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Maryland and a B.S. degree from Rutgers University, all in Civil and Environmental Engineering. He is a registered professional engineer. He is a member ASCE, ASEE, and DBIA and is a Designated Design Build Professional.

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

Simulating Consulting Engineer Relationships in a Senior Design Course and Assessing the Results Abstract

The civil engineering senior design course at George Mason University and its assessment process underwent some significant changes in the Spring 2007 offering, motivated by a large increase in program enrollment (170 percent over the preceding five years). Some of the methods of course delivery used in prior years do not scale very well to prospective future class sizes of 50 or more. Changes in 2007 included modifying how teams are formed and their specific roles in the project. In particular two teams were designated as engineering consultants who provided services to four other project-based teams. A new two-phase jury evaluation process was also introduced, wherein the jurors had access to a website with the project documents approximately one week prior to the formal project presentations. This was intended to allow a more in-depth evaluation of the technical content of the designs, and a presentation- day evaluation of the team presentation skills. The changes required a revised set of juror evaluation forms, with both repeat of prior content and with sections that were not part of the previous instrument. This paper reports on the assessment results for this revised senior design experience. Two aspects are emphasized: (1) the relative degree of success of the simulated client-consultant relationships; and (2) comparative data for this offering vs. assessment results for the prior three years. Participant views on the new jury evaluation process are also discussed.

Senior Design Course Requirements and Procedures

The details of how the senior design course at George Mason was structured through Spring 2006 were provided in a previous paper (Bronzini and Matusik1). To summarize briefly, each student team prepares the preliminary layout and design for a land development project. The lead instructor for the course is a practicing land development engineer, and the support instructors are practicing land development and structural engineers. Local land design practitioners serve as team mentors. Each team takes an assigned actual land parcel in a nearby jurisdiction and, for a specified residential, commercial, or industrial project, prepares preliminary designs for the layout, street system, grading, drainage, water supply and wastewater systems, and all connections to the relevant offsite systems. A portion of the proposed project is selected for a preliminary structural design. The students also prepare a project schedule for their preliminary design effort, develop a construction cost estimate, and perform a traffic impact study. Final projects are presented in a public forum, and various aspects of student performance are graded by a design jury. The land parcel used and the design specifications for each team change with each offering of the course.

As the Spring 2007 semester began the instructors were faced with a course enrollment of 31 students, vs. enrollments of 22 and 18 students the two preceding years. (Enrollment for Spring 2008 stands at 35 students, so the recent growth trend has continued.) In those two prior years the students were divided into three land development teams, which meant teams as large as six to eight students. The experience with the seven and eight person teams was not particularly good, in that it was much more difficult to ensure that all team members contributed substantially and roughly equally to the final products. An obvious solution to this problem is to limit teams to

Bronzini, M., & Casey, M. (2008, June), Simulating Consulting Engineer Relationships In A Senior Design Course And Assessing The Results Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4307

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