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course description - previous project entry

Posted by Morgan White on December 29, 2014

Many students aren’t exposed to the broad and detailed aspects of CEE until a summer intern opportunity or it could be as late as their senior level course work. There is a great desire by faculty and among our students to bring more meaningful experiences, exploration, and context to CEE in the Freshman and Sophomore curricula. There have been recent changes to CEE195 to engage our entering student more into thinking about the different disciplines of CEE through invited speakers and selected case studies. CEE research and professional practices have traditionally been based on observation and then explanation through theoretical models. The goal of this new course would be an extension of the introductory CEE195 class with more emphasis on exploring CEE through presentations on current challenges and innovations in CEE, field trips to various area CEE infrastructure facilities giving students context about what civil engineers build, operate, and maintain, and sensing and experimental measurements of civil engineering quantities. A semester, team project will also be part of this new course which will be designed around providing students with several real problems facing the University of Illinois campus and allowing them to propose solutions. This project and experiment-based learning approach are integral to student connecting the importance of engineering fundamentals and experimental measurements and observations with solving future challenges in CEE.

Course Vision

The purpose of this course is to primarily give our freshman/sophomore level CEE students the opportunities to learn through hands on laboratory experimentation and field measurements, field trips to local infrastructure facilities, and lectures on current problems and innovative solutions facing civil and environmental engineering. Due to the many societal and infrastructure challenges in CEE, we want to motivate the next generation of engineers to solve these grand challenges, e.g., NAE Grand Challenges, through a project and experiment-based learning environment.

Course Genesis

The development of this course first began with a conversation with Dr. Jack Dempsey of F&S, who was interested in offering a campus-wide course to students of the challenges facing campus infrastructure especially as it relates to sustainability as well as F&S connecting faculty and students who could propose and possibly offer solutions to some of these challenges. After a few meetings, it was obvious that most of the topics in this course would be most applicable to civil and environmental engineers and it could find a permanent and thriving home in the CEE department, and be an excellent class for freshmen/sophomore level students.

Course Objective

This course will expose and instruct the students about the broad areas of CEE disciplines through lectures, experimental measurements, and field trips and link them with challenges facing the civil infrastructure on the University of Illinois campus and in the local community. This course is a follow up course to CEE195 to provide further insight into the practical application of multi-disciplinary civil engineering themes through lectures, project and experiment-based learning, and field trips. This course complements other key courses in the CEE department and will strengthen student’s idea of challenges in civil engineering to assist society and the environment, foster interdisciplinary work during the undergraduate experience. Collaboration with the University of Illinois Facilities and Services Division will further strengthen this class as a living, learning laboratory with relevant problems to solve, data to collect, measurements to make, and the need for interdisciplinary experts.

Course Format and Implementation

The long-term course goal is to provide a bridge class for freshman/sophomore students in CEE linking the introductory CEE195 class to the introductory courses in the various CEE specialty areas such as structures, transportation, materials, hydrology, sustainability, etc. This course will engage our undergraduate students during a sensitive time in their education in order to retain, inspire, and motivate (or even attract) them so that they can make a large impact on societal infrastructure challenges. It is anticipated that this course would become a permanent, required class for freshman/sophomores, i.e., CEE203 in the Fall 2015. This 2-hour course will be fully implemented over a 3-year period starting with limited enrollment in the Fall 2013 as a one hour class, a 2-hour restricted enrollment class in the Fall 2014 with the laboratory and field sensing/ measurements content being added, open enrollment in Fall 2015 for all CEE students, and mandatory enrollment in Fall 2016 for all CEE freshman or sophomore. A fixed number of class slots will be reserved for other engineering and campus disciplines to further broaden and promote the interdisciplinary nature of solving future CEE challenges. The following subsections provide a brief description of the course evolution.