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The Admiral Combs Design Retreat

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Experienced-Based Instruction

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1100.1 - 8.1100.17

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Paper Authors

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George List

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Stacy Eisenman

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

Session 3515

The Admiral Combs Design Retreat

Stacy Eisenman and George List Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Abstract The Admiral Combs Design Retreat provides an opportunity for students to experience many aspects of civil engineering in a “real world” situation. For the past six years the retreat has offered to returning seniors, five days of irreplaceable knowledge and networking. For a week students become the guests and partners of a design firm. Throughout the retreat students engage in various projects and learn how the disciplines of civil engineering overlap and integrate with other disciplines to solve real-world problems. The firm presents a series of engineering tasks to the students. Each of the tasks represents a problem focused on one of the civil engineering concentrations. Working in teams, the students consult with the firms’ field experts to recognize the complexities of the problems. They then use their theoretical knowledge to develop conceptual solutions. In addition to gains in experiential knowledge, the retreat provides an opportunity for the students to network with the firm’s top engineers and more importantly with their fellow classmates. The retreat is a fully funded experience, which offers students the opportunity to better understand how their education will be put into practice. Students are not required to attend the retreat and no credit is given for attending. The reputation of the retreat has grown among the students. Each year the retreat provides students with insights into their profession and their futures. Without question the retreat instills students with a respect for their chosen profession and greatly motivates and stimulates them to pursue addition interests in their studies. This paper describes the retreat in detail, explains how the retreat has affected the lives and careers of the participants, and compares the retreat to other similar integrative experiences offered by other civil engineering programs.

Introduction In the world of civil engineering, practicing professionals often work on large-scale projects with huge costs and impacts. Practical experiences provide an effective way to let students see how the things they learn in the class relate to the real world. Moreover, the practical experiences can be used to expose students to career options, role models, construction sites, and experience of the day-to-day challenges of project management.

Some conventional examples of such practical experiences are cooperatives education programs (co-ops) and internships. At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute there is an ongoing search for additional opportunities to provide it students with practical experiences. The civil engineering

“Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education”

List, G., & Eisenman, S. (2003, June), The Admiral Combs Design Retreat Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2003 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015