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Using A Realistic Hands On Laboratory Program To Enhance A Reinforced Concrete Design Course

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Unique Lab Experiments

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.1247.1 - 7.1247.14



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Paper Authors

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David Sibert

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C. Conley

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Allen Estes

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

Main Menu Session 2526

Using a Realistic Hands-On Laboratory Program to Enhance a Reinforced Concrete Design Course

Allen C. Estes, David E. Sibert, and Christopher H. Conley United States Military Academy


Most engineering courses rely on a combination of basic engineering science theory and the use of laboratory-based empirical equations when the theory is not as easily understood. Students learn about the theory and the equations in the classroom, but the experience is far richer if these same students can verify these principles in the laboratory and see it for themselves. Effective laboratory experiences require money, time, equipment, materials and planning. They are more effective if they complement the material covered in the classroom. This paper describes the laboratory program associated with the undergraduate Design of Reinforced Concrete Structures course offered to cadets at the United States Military Academy.

The reinforced concrete course at West Point covers the topics one usually finds at the undergraduate level. These include properties of concrete and reinforcing steel, beam design, one-way slab design, bond stresses and development length, serviceability requirements, column design, and footing design. The hands-on laboratory program reinforces many of these topics and allows cadets to decide for themselves the validity of the theory and equations they use for design.

The lab program consists of eight two-hour sessions described in detail in the paper. By the completion of the course, the cadets have designed and mixed two batches of concrete, conducted quality control tests, assessed the concrete strength using destructive and non-destructive methods, constructed a steel reinforcing cage, and built and tested a reinforced concrete beam. In the process, they have verified the ACI code equations with respect to the tensile strength of concrete, Young’s modulus for concrete, elastic range deflections, and the flexural capacity of an RC beam.

The final product is a formal laboratory report that ties the entire lab program together and forces the cadets to evaluate, explain, and analyze what they have done. The experience of working with the equipment, mixing the concrete, breaking the specimens and observing the ductility provided by the reinforcement could never be replicated in the classroom lecture environment.


The Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy strives to bring its courses to life through interactive, hands-on classes. Interactive classroom discussion with physical models is the standard for courses taught in

“Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2002, American Society for Engineering Education”

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Sibert, D., & Conley, C., & Estes, A. (2002, June), Using A Realistic Hands On Laboratory Program To Enhance A Reinforced Concrete Design Course Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11115

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