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Student Communication Improvements during an Industry-Sponsored Civil Engineering Senior Design Course

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Civil Engineering Division Technical Session 7

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1412.1 - 26.1412.17



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Paper Authors


Ryan Fries P.E. Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville

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Ryan Fries is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He earned his BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Delaware and his MS and PhD from Clemson University in South Carolina, where he is a licensed Professional Engineer.

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Brad Cross P.E. Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville


Jianpeng Zhou Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville

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Dr. Jianpeng Zhou is Professor in Environmental Engineering and Chair of the Civil Engineering Department. He is a licensed Professional Engineer and a Board Certified Environmental Engineer with American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists. Dr. Zhou obtained his Ph.D. and M.A.Sc. degrees from the University of British Columbia, his M.Eng. and B.Eng. degrees from Tsinghua University, all in Environmental Engineering.

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Chad Verbais Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville

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Many engineering programs use senior design courses to introduce students to real-worldprojects, and sometimes connect them with practicing engineers. Because strong communicationabilities are essential for practicing engineers and indicative of career advancement potential,engineering educators are increasing curriculum emphases on these skills. This multidisciplinarystudy sought to identify how an industry-sponsored senior design course improved studentcommunication abilities. Faculty from a Civil Engineering Department and their campusWriting Center participated in the study. The authors collected student exit surveys during ninesemesters of a senior design course; comparing student perceptions between faculty-led andindustry-sponsored projects. Additionally, two semesters of before-and-after writing sampleswere collected during industry-sponsored classes and were evaluated by faculty using a rubric.The student surveys suggested a statistically significant increase in learning about professionalissues, problem solving, and written/oral communication with industry-sponsored projects.Evaluation of student writing samples during these industry-sponsored projects suggests that thestudents significantly improved written communication skills, specifically in the areas ofgrammar/spelling and organization of content. These findings suggest that industry-sponsoredprojects help students recognize the relation between professionalism and organized and error-free written communication. 1

Fries, R., & Cross, B., & Zhou, J., & Verbais, C. (2015, June), Student Communication Improvements during an Industry-Sponsored Civil Engineering Senior Design Course Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24749

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