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Student Feedback And Lessons Learned From Adding Laboratory Experiences To The Reinforced Concrete Design Course

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

CE Poster Session in Exhibit Hall

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1311.1 - 12.1311.10



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Paper Authors

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Micah Hale University of Arkansas

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Seamus Freyne Manhattan College

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Stephan Durham University of Colorado at Denver

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

Student Feedback and Lessons Learned from Adding Laboratory Experiences to the Reinforced Concrete Design Course Abstract

In an effort to demonstrate lecture course material, a class project was added to the senior level Reinforced Concrete Design course that incorporated beam testing. The concept of beam testing is not new. Many universities test reinforced concrete beams in flexure and in shear. What sets this experience apart is the effort to coordinate beam testing with lecture topics, the types of failures illustrated, and requiring the students to illustrate in the laboratory a concept they learned in the classroom. For most semesters, beams were cast and tested to illustrate tension and compression controlled failures, shear failures, and finally inadequate splice length failure. Once their beams were tested, the students were required to prepare a project report. Overall, most student responses were positive in nature. Typical student responses were centered on lessons learned in the laboratory, such as tying steel, that are not covered in classroom lectures. Also presented in the paper are lessons learned from the faculty members’ point of view, along with several areas of improvement for the project.


Reinforced Concrete Design (or Concrete I) is generally a junior or senior level course in most civil engineering curriculums. At the University of Arkansas, Concrete I is a three hour course consisting of three, 50 minute lectures per week. Depending on the University, there may or may not be an additional laboratory or drill section. Typically this first course in concrete design covers materials, flexure (analysis of rectangular beams, irregular shapes, T-beams, one-way slabs, doubly reinforced beams), shear and diagonal tension, column design, and development of reinforcing steel. The objective of integrating laboratory beam testing into the course was to illustrate classroom lessons, lectures, and homework. This project required each student group to meet outside of the normally scheduled lecture time to cast their reinforced concrete beams, but testing was conducted during the lecture periods.


Practical experience whether it is design experience or construction experience is a desired trait in civil engineering graduates that many employers seek. In an article directed to young engineers wishing to enter the construction industry, an industry that many civil engineers choose to enter, an executive vice president advised young engineers “to get a good understanding of how the work is done”.1 Students may gain this understanding during part time jobs while they are in school, but there are students in most civil engineering programs that have never been exposed to a construction site. Additionally there are students and engineers who have never built something they had designed yet their designs may be detailed to fractions of an inch. One of the many goals of building and testing reinforced concrete beams as a class project is to provide this type of experience to undergraduate students.

Hale, M., & Freyne, S., & Durham, S. (2007, June), Student Feedback And Lessons Learned From Adding Laboratory Experiences To The Reinforced Concrete Design Course Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2960

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