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The Dorc Factor: Engaging Students In Reinforced Concrete Design

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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

Engaging Upper Level Classes

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1277.1 - 10.1277.12



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Paper Authors

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Keith Thompson

author page

Matthew Roberts

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

The DORC* Factor: Engaging Students in Reinforced Concrete Design

Matthew W. Roberts, M. Keith Thompson Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Wisconsin—Platteville 1 University Plaza Platteville, WI 53818-3099

Abstract To better engage upper-level undergraduate students, a beam design and testing class project and case studies are used in the reinforced concrete design course at the University of Wisconsin– Platteville (UWP). Details are furnished on how the project and case studies are used including time and resource constraints, variations of the project to meet different instructional goals, as- sessment of student motivation for the project, and bibliographical information for the case stud- ies. The project and case studies engage students through creativity, competition, and real-world application of engineering principles while meeting instructional goals such as increasing student communication skills and awareness of current engineering issues, discussing engineering ethics, and accentuating the need for life-long learning.

Introduction The properties of reinforced concrete can make the study of its behavior complex and over- whelming even for upper-level undergraduate students. Most of the emphasis in a first course of reinforced concrete design is on mechanical theory and calculation techniques. Many aspects of the field can be lost when the focus of the class plays so heavily on the analytical aspects of the topic and students can lose their motivation under the onslaught of applied theory and math. Overcoming these difficulties is particularly important at UWP because reinforced concrete de- sign is required of all civil engineering students, not just those with an emphasis in structural en- gineering. Students who are not planning an emphasis in structures may not grasp the worth of the class to their future careers. To better engage the students at UWP, the reinforced concrete design course includes a design competition in conjunction with the construction of a sample beam that is tested in the structures lab. Additionally, lectures on case studies are used to show students applications and issues of actual concrete structures. These exercises satisfy key educational goals. The beam design com- petition with subsequent fabrication and testing allows the students to see how the subjects they learn in class translate to practice in a hands-on approach. The case studies build a broader awareness of their field and introduce ethical issues into the class discussion.

* Designer of reinforced concrete. Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Thompson, K., & Roberts, M. (2005, June), The Dorc Factor: Engaging Students In Reinforced Concrete Design Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14291

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