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  1. Introductory steel design courses focus on the analysis and design of primary members, which typically include tension members and connections, compression members, flexural members, and beam-columns. Introducing structural steel design concepts to students presents its fair share of challenges. First, it is difficult for students to visualize and accurately predict the potential failure modes of a tension member: yielding of the gross section, rupture of the net section, and block shear. Second, it is also difficult for students to visualize the buckling modes of steel columns, which vary with shape and type of bracing. Students particularly struggle with the determination of buckling modes between strong and weak axes based on effective lengths. Third, flexural failure modes of steel beams are very difficult for students to visualize and understand when each mode controls. The failure modes are complex and fall into three categories for compact shapes: yielding of the cross section, inelastic lateral torsional buckling, and elastic lateral torsional buckling, which is dependent on the unbraced length of the compression flange. Non-compact sections also include local buckling of the flange or web, but identifying the relationship between the unbraced length and beam span and how the unbraced length affects the flexuralmore »capacity tends to be the most difficult concept for students to grasp. This paper provides a detailed overview of the design, fabrication, and implementation of three large-scale experiential learning modules for an undergraduate steel design course. The first module focuses on the tension connections by providing physical models of various failure types including yielding of the gross section, rupture of the net section, and block shear; the second module focuses on the capacity of columns with different amounts of lateral bracing about the weak axis; and the third module focuses on the flexural strength of a beam with different unbraced lengths to illustrate the difference between lateral torsional buckling and flange local buckling/yielding of the gross section. The three modules were used throughout the steel design course at Saint Louis University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology to illustrate the failure mechanisms associated with the design of steel structures.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 26, 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 and 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 limitmore »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 struggle 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 severalmore »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. 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, 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 regardingmore »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
  5. Structural analysis is the foundation of a structural engineer’s education, which generally includes topics ranging from basic statics to solving complex indeterminate structures. Most courses focus on theoretical approaches to solving and understanding problems with a large focus on determining internal forces, external reactions, and displacements. In many cases, courses also include concurrent discussion about deflected shapes and actual behavior compared to theoretical assumptions. Courses may also use pictures, videos, simulations, and small, table-top models to illustrate such behavior. However, students still struggle with understanding structural behavior and the effects of as-built versus theoretical connections. Such differences are difficult to convey simply using photos, videos, simulations, and small, table-top models. Students never have the opportunity to physically feel the differences and experience large-scale models that illustrate such behavior mainly due to cost, fabrication complexity, and material stiffness. The authors from University A and University B designed large-scale, lightweight models for in-class use that allow students to experience structural behavior and feel the differences between various types of as-built connections. This paper provides a detailed overview of the design, fabrication, and implementation of four large-scale experiential learning modules for an undergraduate structural analysis course using lightweight and flexible fiberglass reinforced polymermore »(FRP) structural shapes. The first module focuses on the behavior of beam-to-column connections compared to theoretical assumptions; the second module focuses on load paths and tributary areas related to a typical floor system; the third module focuses on the deflected shapes of determinate and indeterminate beams; and the fourth module focuses on the behavior of a portal frame subjected to both vertical and horizontal loads with various support configurations. The four modules were used throughout the structural analysis course at University A and University B to illustrate structural behavior concurrent to the presentation of various structural analysis concepts.« less