Engineering judgement and intuition are vital characteristic of the design profession. Engineering judgement and intuition are developed through experience. This experience is gained by designing a building (working with industry disciplines and the owner); analyzing the building (calculations); being part of the construction process (constructability), and walking through the final product (end user). Teaching design means, in part, developing engineering judgement and intuition. This may best be accomplished by incorporating active learning experiences.

For timber and masonry buildings, the shear wall is the lateral resisting system of choice. A hands-on experience has been developed as a simple exercise in constructing shear walls and then assessing the shear walls under a lateral load.

More specifically, in qualitative terms, the idea of wall rigidity is explored; actual construction experience is gained (for many students it is a first time experience in rough framing construction); the behavior and limitations of different wall sheathing is observed directly; insight is gained for code restrictions of different sheathing materials; and system behaviors such as overturning is directly observed.

As a strategy for developing students engineering judgment and intuition, this paper will give a detailed account of the hands-on shear wall exercise. Other educators are encouraged to implement, building upon, or transfer to other topics, the information contained within.

The students are upper level classmen in a timber and masonry design studio (9 hours per week of meeting time on a quarter system) of an architectural engineering program with an emphasis on structural engineering. The authors are licensed structural engineers with over 65 years of practicing experience, who have returned to academia.

The authors believe, from their direct background and experience, that it is important, for design, to begin giving the students non-traditional text book and calculation experiences. Giving the students a non-traditional experience, prior to graduation, is the emphasis of this paper.


Architectural Engineering

Number of Pages




URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/aen_fac/58