Interdisciplinary capstone design: Architects, structural engineers, and construction managers
Published in 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings, June 10, 2012, pages 25.8.1-25.8.18.
The College of Architecture and Environmental Design at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo is the only college in the nation that has departments of Architecture, Architectural Engineering, Construction Management and Landscape Architecture in the same college. The institution has a 60 year tradition of collaboration between the engineering, architecture and construction disciplines, particularly at the lower division level. To enhance this collaboration, the college committed to providing an upper division, interdisciplinary experience to every student in the form of a project based, team oriented five unit studio laboratory that every student would take. The course is now in its third year and requires small teams of architecture, engineering, construction and landscape architecture students to complete the schematic level design of an actual building for a real client. The challenges in creating and executing such a course fall into three major areas: institutional, logistical and pedagogical. Institutional issues include university support and concurrence from four different department heads. Logistical issues range from finding open time within the four schedules to offer the course and securing physical locations for small and large group meeting areas to the seemingly mundane tasks of ensuring all students are in the correct location and finding common times for the instructors to meet. Pedagogically, the course needs a unified and integrated approach that must be agreed to and implemented by all professors. Traditionally professors work as individuals and team teaching of this magnitude is a paradigm shift that requires significant time, a flexible mindset and a commitment to collaborate. This paper reports on the progress of this course using survey assessment data and direct performance indicators. These same data provide valuable support to the 3 a-k ABET program criteria. The variety of projects undertaken to date illustrates the flexibility of this course. The paper describes how the challenges listed above have been overcome particularly concerning the role of the faculty in the course and the merging of very different department cultures. Finally, the future of the course and the suggested improvements are highlighted.
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