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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2023
  2. Geotechnical engineering undergraduate curriculum typically consist of courses in soil mechanics and foundation design that include a variety of topics that are difficult for students to understand and master. Behavior of the below grade natural and built geomaterials discussed in these courses can be difficult for students to visualize. Typically, the mechanisms of behavior are demonstrated using small-scale laboratory tests, two-dimensional sketches, simple table-top models, or video simulations in the classroom. Students rarely have the opportunity to observe large-scale behavior of foundations in the field or laboratory. The authors from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and Saint Louis University designed andmore »implemented a large-scale foundation testing system to address several topics that students tend to struggle with the most, including 1) the difference in strength and service limit states in shallow foundation design, 2) soil-structure interaction associated with lateral behavior of deep foundations, and 3) the influence of near-surface soil on lateral behavior of deep foundations. This paper provides a detailed overview of the design, fabrication, and implementation of two large-scale experiential learning modules for undergraduate courses in soil mechanics and foundation engineering. The first module utilizes shallow foundations in varying configurations to demonstrate the differences in strength and service limit state behavior of shallow foundations. The second module utilizes a relatively flexible pile foundation embedded in sand to demonstrate the lateral behavior of deep foundations. The first module was used in the soil mechanics courses at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and Saint Louis University to compare theoretical and observed behavior of shallow foundations. The second module was used in the foundation engineering course at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology to illustrate the concepts of soil-structure interaction and the influence of near-surface soil on lateral behavior of deep foundations.« less
  3. Most undergraduate civil engineering programs include an introductory course in reinforced concrete design. The course generally includes an introduction to the fundamentals of reinforced concrete behavior, the design of simple beams and one-way slabs to resist shear and flexure, and the design of short columns. Because of the scale of typical civil engineering structures, students commonly do not get to experience large or full-scale structural behavior as a part of an undergraduate reinforced concrete course. Rather, students typically learn fundamental concepts through theoretical discussions, small demonstrations, or pictures and images. Without the interaction with full-scale structural members, students can strugglemore »to develop a clear understanding of the fundamental behavior of these systems such as the differences in behavior of an over or under-reinforced beam. Additionally, students do not build an appreciation for the variations between as-built versus theoretical designs. Large-scale models can illustrate such behavior and enhance student understanding, but most civil engineering programs lack the physical equipment to perform testing at this scale. The authors from St. Louis University (SLU) and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT) have designed and implemented large-scale tests for in-class use that allow students to experience fundamental reinforced concrete behavior. Students design and test several reinforced concrete members using a modular strong-block testing system. This paper provides a detailed overview of the design, fabrication, and implementation of three large-scale experiential learning modules for an undergraduate reinforced concrete design course. The first module focuses on service load and deflections of a reinforced concrete beam. The first and second modules also focus on flexural failure modes and ductility. The third module focuses on shear design and failure modes. Each module uses a large scale reinforced concrete beam (Flexure specimens: 12 in. x 14 in. x 19 ft, Shear specimens: 12 in. x 14 in. x 10 ft.) that was tested on a modular strong-block testing system. The three modules were used throughout the reinforced concrete design course at SLU and RHIT to illustrate behavior concurrent to the presentation of various reinforced concrete design concepts.« less
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2022
  5. Full-scale testing can be a powerful form of experiential learning in structural engineering courses. Most curricula focus on the proverbial “nuts and bolts” of structural engineering by teaching students to calculate forces and displacements along with member capacities. Pictures, videos, simulations, and small-scale projects are sometimes used to illustrate structural behavior. However, students regularly struggle to grasp structural behavior whether that is simply sketching a deflected shape or describing failure mechanisms. Rather than passively experiencing structural element or system behavior through pictures, videos, simulations, and small-scale projects, full-scale testing provides students with a first-hand, lasting understanding of fundamental behavior. Additionally,more »students also gain invaluable perspectives often difficult to glean from traditional classroom instruction such as constructability and tolerance issues. Full-scale testing is essential for student understanding of structural engineering concepts and there is a significant need for well-organized experiential learning opportunities with appropriate scales that successfully illustrate structural behavior. This paper provides the rationale and design approach for full-scale experiential learning opportunities in structural engineering. The rational of the project is based on faculty’s observations related to student understanding of structural behavior in Structural Analysis, Reinforced Concrete Design, Steel Design, and Foundation Design courses further reinforced by survey data regarding students’ perception of the most difficult topics to understand in each course. The design approach of the experiential learning modules highlights several factors including desired structural behavior, scale, testing capabilities, and implementation feasibility. The paper concludes with brief descriptions of thirteen experiential learning modules developed for the four courses to improve student understanding of structural behavior.« less
  6. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2022
  7. null (Ed.)