Saturday, July 26, 2014

Teaching resources for structural engineering

From the Bridge Investigation Project
The website of the Institution of Structural Engineers has a lot of material that teachers can use in lessons for structural engineering students.

Sections of the website include Education, which has a section for 5- to 16-year-olds and one for 16-year-olds and above. So it is useful for all levels of engineering and of language proficiency. From the first section, there is "structural engineering explained to learn what structural engineers do."

Part of this explanation is: "In a nutshell, if a structure was a human body then the architect would be concerned with the body shape and appearance, and the structural engineer would be concerned with the skeleton and sinews."

This is a very good example of explaining something simply and clearly. For engineering students it would be interesting to first ask them what a structural engineer does, and then compare their answers with this one.

A very useful sub-section of Education is Teaching resources, which includes PowerPoint presentations.

The description says, "You can bring structural engineering into the classroom in a fun and meaningful way by using our various teaching resources."

An example is the "Bridge Investigation Project," in which students research a particular bridge and present their findings. The three suggestions for the research project are:
  1. Choose one of the main types of bridge and tell the history of its design.
  2. Choose one of the main types of bridge and describe how the structure transfers loads from the middle of the span to the supports.
  3. Tell the story of a local bridge: when was it built; who built it and why; how is this bridge of benefit to the local community.
A similar project could be done with other examples of structural engineering.

The lessons are downloadable and ready to use. I wish there were websites in other engineering fields that had this kind of material for teachers!

Finally, the Education section includes Useful educational links, which are worth exploring for both teaching material and for material specifically recommended for students at all levels.

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