Events, Waterloo

CivE Days Article

On Thursday October 26th to the 27th the Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty hosted the first ever CivE Days. Designed and implemented by Stephen Phillips and Rania Al-Hammoud, with the help of members of the Engineering Ideas Clinic and many other staff and faculty. Students of the second year Civil and Geological Engineering Mechanics course (CIVE 204) participated in a two-day event where they got to design, build, and break a bridge!

Professors aimed to incorporate diversification of teaching methods for an inclusive and deeper-learning environment.  Therefore, after a major bridge design project was incorporated into the CIVE 204 curriculum to foster deeper learning through experiential, reflective learning and an integrated design approach of all courses. The following areas of concern were brought up as feedback;

  • Students have admitted to doing the work last minute due to the demanding nature of all their courses

  • There have been complaints of students being too nervous to try different methods because of a lack of understanding, time, and experience.

  • Since students have time to only make one bridge, they do not test the bridge design beforehand. Then on the day of testing often bridge designs fail to do what they predicted to do.

CivE Days was developed to address each of these issues along with improving learning techniques and student-instructor communication.

The breakdown of CivE Days event was two days and four deliverables. The first deliverable was made up entirely of the simulated bridge project design. Each group was given a topographic map with points A and B on it. Students were then required to connect the two points with a road design and a bridge. In the preliminary design students went through the process of designing a road, doing cost analysis, cut and fill, and environmental assessment. This incorporated their Transportation and Materials courses. The second deliverable was to design and build the bridge. Students then analyzed their design and predicted their failure point, failure load, indicated members in tension or compression, and circled connections which incorporated their Mechanics and Statistics Courses.

On the second day, the fourth deliverable was to test their bridge strength and the accuracy of their static analysis. After everyone completed testing their bridge, students had time to do group and individual reflection. They were then required to write a reflection report about their bridge design, performance and recommendations. At the end of the day awards were given out and students completed their final event survey.

 The consensus from staff, students and faculty have been that CivE days was a success! Students had a lot of fun doing the activity and one student mentioned, “It was a lot of fun because it was a low stress environment, because it wasn’t for marks. It wasn’t just for goofing off though because it was a competition and we were committed to making a bridge.” Other comments have been that it was a good opportunity to bond with the class and the environment was friendly where everyone was willing to help each other out. Stephen Phillips, the event coordinator, mentioned that, “The event went over really well, especially considering this was the first year it was organized. It was really cool to see such a wide range of bridge designs, and to hear the rationale for the specific design elements used.”

Overall the event challenged and engaged students, where from feedback it found that 86% of students who attended wanted to participate in another event like this in the future!

Leave a Reply