Location

Chicago, Illinois

Session Start Date

4-29-2013

Session End Date

5-4-2013

Abstract

Civil engineers are everyday faced with multidisciplinary problems. Their tasks are not only related to technical aspects, but also involve ethical and environmental issues, economic considerations and, nowadays, international collaborations. This broad spectrum of aspects requires a strong technical knowledge, as well as many interpersonal skills and an interest in societal related issues. When traditional courses are simply adapted to the development of technical competences, introducing students to non-technical (although civil engineering-related) aspects remains a challenge. To remediate to this difficulty, an innovative approach was implemented in the undergraduate course of Soil Mechanics at Polytechnique Montreal. The originality of our approach relies on the study of failure case studies from a forensic point of view and on the challenge of students with real world multidisciplinary applications. Students are thus entirely involved in the case study and act as investigators recruited to find the cause of a failure and its impact on social and environmental issues. This methodology prevents student passivity and the role of the professor is only to guide students towards a holistic understanding of the events, rather than suggesting solutions for them. The paper will present the overall course design and outline, from the selection of the failure case study to its implementation into the curriculum.

Department(s)

Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Appears In

International Conference on Case Histories in Geotechnical Engineering

Meeting Name

Seventh Conference

Publisher

Missouri University of Science and Technology

Publication Date

4-29-2013

Document Version

Final Version

Rights

© 2013 Missouri University of Science and Technology, All rights reserved.

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

File Type

text

Language

English

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Apr 29th, 12:00 AM May 4th, 12:00 AM

Students as Forensic Engineers: An Innovative Approach to Teaching Soil Mechanics

Chicago, Illinois

Civil engineers are everyday faced with multidisciplinary problems. Their tasks are not only related to technical aspects, but also involve ethical and environmental issues, economic considerations and, nowadays, international collaborations. This broad spectrum of aspects requires a strong technical knowledge, as well as many interpersonal skills and an interest in societal related issues. When traditional courses are simply adapted to the development of technical competences, introducing students to non-technical (although civil engineering-related) aspects remains a challenge. To remediate to this difficulty, an innovative approach was implemented in the undergraduate course of Soil Mechanics at Polytechnique Montreal. The originality of our approach relies on the study of failure case studies from a forensic point of view and on the challenge of students with real world multidisciplinary applications. Students are thus entirely involved in the case study and act as investigators recruited to find the cause of a failure and its impact on social and environmental issues. This methodology prevents student passivity and the role of the professor is only to guide students towards a holistic understanding of the events, rather than suggesting solutions for them. The paper will present the overall course design and outline, from the selection of the failure case study to its implementation into the curriculum.