Steve Jones: Development of Civil Engineering Design skills through active learning

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In 2008 the Department of Engineering launched the Liverpool Engineer initiative, which comprises an educational framework incorporating the principles of CDIO to develop multifaceted engineers ready to meet the professional needs of the 21st century. Active learning is at the core of the Liverpool Engineer learning and teaching philosophy. For Civil Engineering students the development of open minded design skills is fostered through a series of three Design-Build-Test projects, introduced in the first year of their academic studies. Students work in groups to develop a model cardboard bridge. The new Active Learning Laboratory was completed in 2008 and provides an ideal facility for these projects. The structured progression of the bridge design projects allows students to explore the properties of tension and compression members fabricated from cardboard. Their findings are compared with member properties derived from computer structural analyses to allow them to develop a complete bridge structure with the specified factor of safety. The truss geometry and member properties of the first "Icebreaker" bridge are tightly constrained. For the second and third bridges the student groups have increasing freedom to develop their own concepts and structural solutions to the problem. The presentation will focus on the student experience and some problems and pitfalls encountered with their understanding of structural behaviour.

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