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Using Computer Simulation To Teach Technical Aspects Of Construction In A Liberal Arts Setting

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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

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1243.1 - 8.1243.15

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Paper Authors

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Ashraf Ghaly

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

Session 2793

Using computer simulation to teach technical aspects of construction in a liberal arts setting

Ashraf M. Ghaly

Associate Professor, Civil Engineering Department Union College, Schenectady, NY 12308


The general education curriculum at Liberal Arts colleges requires students to take courses in history, literature, civilization, social sciences, sciences, and cultural diversity. These courses comprise almost a third of the entire curriculum. All students, including engineering students, are required to take these courses to fulfill the general education component of their curriculum. In this day and age where technology plays an integral role in people’s daily lives, it seems odd that, although engineering students are required to take almost a third of their courses on non- engineering topics, the liberal arts students are not required to take any engineering or technology- oriented courses. Engineering courses are deemed too technical for the non-engineers to take. At such colleges, the freshman-writing course is considered to be a venue to introduce young students to a mature level of analytical reading, thinking, discussion, and writing. A new experiment is being developed to make available to both engineering and non-engineering students a technical module on construction technology. The module is designed to introduce the liberal arts students in particular to highly technical aspects of the construction industry. It aims at allowing students to acquire appreciation for the complicated and carefully coordinated effort associated with the construction of sophisticated structures. Several types of structures and methods of construction techniques will be presented. The role played by different structural components in carrying and resisting expected loads will be discussed in detail. The structures covered in this module are suspension and cable-stayed bridges, towers, domes and shells, sea platforms, dams, tunnels and monuments. Each of these structures has its own special features, and their construction involves certain challenges that must be tackled in a well-planned manner. For non-engineering students, the module intends to make a meaningful contribution to their comprehension of the complicated nature of construction. This will be coupled with assigned technical readings on simple principles of load-supporting structural components. It is hoped that this module will serve as an eye opener for those who have never had any exposure to the building industry. It is also anticipated that the technical content planned for this course will help non- engineering students achieve a reasonable level of understanding of what could be a life-long useful knowledge.

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

Ghaly, A. (2003, June), Using Computer Simulation To Teach Technical Aspects Of Construction In A Liberal Arts Setting Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee.

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