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Structural Engineering Practicum: The First Course in a Master’s Program

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Innovative Techniques in Structural Engineering Courses

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1109.1 - 24.1109.17



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Paper Authors


James H. Hanson Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Dr. James Hanson is an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology where his teaching emphasis is structural analysis and design. Over the last nine years he has conducted research on teaching students how to evaluate the reasonableness of their results. He is the recipient of several best paper awards and teaching awards including the American Concrete Institute’s Young Member Award for Professional Achievement in 2006 and the Walter P. Moore Jr. Faculty Award in 2007. He also received the Ferdinand P. Beer & E. Russell Johnston, Jr., Outstanding New Mechanics Educator Award from the Mechanics Division of ASEE in 2006.

Professor Hanson brings four years of military and industry experience to the classroom. Upon completing his Ph.D. in structural engineering at Cornell University, he taught for two years at Bucknell University. He is a registered Professional Engineer.

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John Aidoo Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology


Kyle Kershaw P.E. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Dr. Kyle Kershaw is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Kyle's primary teaching duties include courses in geotechnical engineering and construction materials. His research interests include behavior and monitoring of in-place foundations and retaining structures. In addition to his teaching and research duties, Kyle is involved in geotechnical consulting and Engineers Without Borders.

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Matthew D. Lovell P.E. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Haaken Hagen-Atwell


Matthew James Ross Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Born and raised in West Lafayette, Indiana, I made the decision during my senior year to attend Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology over Purdue University despite it being right in my back yard and available at a fraction of the tuition costs of Rose. The prestige and reputation of Rose-Hulman attracted me to Terre Haute, Indiana as well as the opportunities it offered. All things considered, it seemed like the right decision to forgo my hometown college and venture away from home to pursue an excellent education.
During my tenure at Rose-Hulman, I was a four-year varsity letter winner on the Swimming and Diving Team. I was voted as a team captain by my teammates for both my Junior and Senior campaigns. Throughout my academic career at Rose-Hulman, I developed a strong interest in structural engineering. As a result, I decided to focus on this discipline for the remainder of my undergraduate career, learning as much as possible through my professors and related course-work.
I opted to continue my education after having completed my Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering. As a result, I decided to return to my Alma mater to complete a Master's curriculum with a focus in structural engineering. After completing my Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering in May of 2013, I accepted an internship opportunity with Walter P Moore in Dallas, Texas. During this internship, I worked with the Diagnostics Services Group analyzing structural issues and problems with existing structures. As part of the requirements for the engineering practicum, I conducted interviews with many of the members of the structural design team to learn about various aspects of the culture of both the industry and Walter P Moore as a firm.
Currently, I am working towards my Master's Degree at Rose-Hulman where I expect to graduate in May of 2014.

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Structural Engineering Practicum: The First Course in a Master’s ProgramThe Civil Engineering Department at [School Name] recently created a course-based master’sdegree program in structural engineering. A distinguishing feature of that program is theStructural Engineering Practicum. Each incoming student must complete the practicum coursebefore beginning the other coursework. The practicum has two requirements: an internshipexperience with a structural engineering firm and essays on their experience.The practicum requires each student to write ten essays based on either first-hand experienceduring their internship or interviews with engineers who have the specific experience. Eachessay must address a list of questions that the instructors developed to guide the experience. Theessay topics expose the students to aspects of business such as obtaining work for the firm,planning and running client meetings, and project management. Other essays introduce thestudents to technical aspects such as decision making in the schematic design phase, designingfor constructability, integrating gravity and lateral load systems, coordinating non-structuralelements, creating construction documents, responding to requests for information from the field,and the quality assurance process.The practicum requirements encourage the students to meet multiple engineers within the firm inorder to see their future career from the perspective of several different people. This papersummarizes feedback from the students and employers about the outcomes of the practicum,what worked well in the experience and what could be improved. It also contains the lessonslearned by the faculty. The feedback from the students and employers has been encouraging. Arequested enhancement is creating a forum for the students to share their experiences with eachother.

Hanson, J. H., & Aidoo, J., & Kershaw, K., & Lovell, M. D., & Hagen-Atwell, H., & Ross, M. J. (2014, June), Structural Engineering Practicum: The First Course in a Master’s Program Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23042

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