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Structural Engineering Instruction: From The Outside In

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Teaching Outside the Box in Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1147.1 - 10.1147.8



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Paper Authors

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Thomas H. Miller

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Susan Frey

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


Susan M. Frey, Thomas H. Miller CH2M Hill/Oregon State University

Why would an extremely busy structural design engineer, who works full time for a multi- discipline consulting firm, commit another 20 hours per week for 12 weeks a year to teaching a university level design class? Particularly, why, when normal office hours exceed 40 hours per week, and family, volunteer, and professional society obligations demand time daily? Why would an Oregon State University professor take time away from his own teaching and research to help foster classes sponsored by industry and taught by local practitioners? Why spend sabbaticals and summers, and weekly time during the academic year, working as a consultant? The answers to these questions lie within this discussion.

In 1994, The Masonry Institute of Oregon contacted Sue Frey, a structural engineer in CH2M HILL’s office in Corvallis, Oregon. The Masonry Institute was sponsoring a senior/graduate level course in masonry design at Portland State University. Another class was being sponsored with industry funds at the University of Washington. The Institute hoped to foster a similar class at Oregon State University and was seeking someone to teach the class starting in 1995. Would someone at CH2M HILL be interested? After some deliberation, consultation, procrastination, and reliance upon blind faith, Ms. Frey decided to take on the challenge. And thus, for the past decade, she has taught a masonry design class for seniors and graduate students. A fair number of engineering professionals also take the class as a continuing education option.

The engineering instructor developed a strong relationship with Dr. Thomas Miller, an associate professor in civil engineering at Oregon State University, who teaches many of the structural engineering classes. Dr. Miller guided his new colleague through the rules, regulations, and culture of the university system, reducing the paperwork and procedures to a mere formality. He assisted with most of the University requirements, enabling Ms. Frey to concentrate on the students and focus on developing and improving the course.

In 2001, Dr. Miller joined CH2M HILL as a flex staff employee, starting with a sabbatical, and he has worked in that capacity to the present time during summers, and at times during the academic year. He has been involved with seismic rehabilitation of buildings, bridge projects, and anti-terrorist/force protection design of facilities for the U.S. Air Force.

Class Economics and Funding

The economics of providing this course exemplifies a true Oregon community project. Oregon State University (OSU) provides the venue, a lecture room in the Civil Engineering Building, Apperson Hall. OSU also supplies transparencies, audio equipment, computer access, projectors, and other materials. The Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering assigns a graduate teaching assistant for grading and other assistance—typically a student who “Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Miller, T. H., & Frey, S. (2005, June), Structural Engineering Instruction: From The Outside In Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14166

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