Tradition and Innovation in Teaching Structural Design in Civil Engineering

Angel C. Aparicio, Ana M. Ruiz-Teran
2007 Journal of professional issues in engineering education and practice  
This paper briefly reviews the history of structural engineering education: the dawn, development and consolidation of traditional education systems as well as their fall into decline in the contemporary technological world. Recent graduates in civil engineering do not have all of the skills and knowledge that the labor market is demanding and civil engineering is losing the social prestige and professional recognition that our profession deserves. It is necessary to improve traditional
more » ... n systems to produce the best civil engineers. The authors present a detailed discussion of their experiences teaching structural design at the School of Civil Engineering of Ciudad Real, Spain, using project-based and cooperative learning methods, as well as implementing knowledge management and transference to the learning process. Results and costs of these methods, as well as the problems related to faculty selection, are set out. The paper concludes with a reflection on the major educational possibilities and historical opportunities presented through the introduction of these new methods and suggest that this is the best way to combine Engineering Education and Practice. INTRODUCTION Following the many technological advancements of the past few decades, companies in the labor market have begun to demand civil engineering graduates with even more skills and knowledge than ever before. In addition, some of the skills that were required of engineers in the past are no longer necessary, since the tasks requiring these skills are now routinely performed by computers rather than engineers. The instruction of civil engineering students must improve with the aim of ensuring that future graduates in civil engineering have the skills and knowledge required to satisfy the demands of industry. The discussion about how to improve the civil engineering education should not only be focused on the length of study, but also in its content, and the methods employed in the instruction of the material. The authors think that it is necessary to have a historical view of civil and structural engineering education and to be aware of the new and innovative teaching methodologies that are now available, before making any decision about the future of civil engineering education. It is for this reason that we have decided to write this paper. To begin, we briefly review the dawn, development, consolidation and fall into decline of traditional education systems. Then, after analyzing the current situation, we describe an innovative course on structural engineering design that is presently implemented and that has lead students to possess the new skills and knowledge that labor market is now demanding.
doi:10.1061/(asce)1052-3928(2007)133:4(340) fatcat:u6jiukoglrfqxbmf5nxmfskyve