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Parks Faculty Awarded NSF Grant to Develop and Assess Full-scale Experiential Learning in Structural Engineering

July 7, 2017
Civil Engineering

chriscarroll335x307-d6tChris Carroll, Ph.D., P.E.

Chris Carroll, Ph.D., P.E., will serve as the principal investigator on a $599,821 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Division of Undergraduate Education. The grant will begin on August 1, 2017 and run through July 31, 2020 (estimated). Chair of SLU’s Department of Civil Engineering, Ronaldo Luna, Ph.D. P.E., F.ASCE, as well as John Aidoo, Ph.D., Kyle Kershaw, Ph.D., P.E., and Matthew Lovell, Ph.D., P.E., all of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, will serve as a Co-PIs on the grant.

The three primary goals for this project are (1) to develop and implement full-scale experiential learning modules in structural engineering courses at Saint Louis University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, (2) to assess student learning and impact on undergraduate education, and (3) to disseminate findings and resources for wider impact at peer institutions across the country.

In the real world, civil engineers are responsible for the design, construction, maintenance and renovation of the nation’s infrastructure. Carroll points out that this requires a well-prepared workforce to maintain and thrive in the future.

luna-335-2Ronaldo Luna, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE

In today’s undergraduate education, civil engineering programs use small-scale, hands-on projects and/or large-scale conceptual projects to teach real-world concepts. Carroll and his co-PI contributors maintain that this type of learning limits students’ ability to accurately predict the capacity and performance of a structure. Further, they go on tostate that design and testing of full-scale structural components is essential to students’ understanding of structural engineering concepts.

This grant aims to change the way that curriculum is delivered in the area of structural engineering. It gives undergraduate students the opportunity to work with more real-world components.  Students will have the opportunity to design, construct and test a variety of structural components in four courses at Saint Louis University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Knowledge gained during this project and resources developed will be disseminated widely to positively impact other civil engineering programs. This project will lead to improving STEM learning and learning environments, as well as aid in building the professional STEM workforce for tomorrow.

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