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The Evolution of The Breath and Depth In Civil Engineering Laboratory Classes
Engineering programs use multiple methods to teach their students. One of the more popular approaches is to include laboratory experiences on specific engineering topics. Providing students with hands-on labs gives the students sensory learning experiences they can use to see, touch, smell, and hear phenomena they learn in classes. Sometimes the labs are connected to a specific course and tethered together. The content is presented in parallel. Other times the class and laboratory are independent, may be in different semesters, and cover a variety of topics. The objective of this study was twofold: First, to study the evolution in laboratory experiences at the Virginia Military Institute since its inception as an accredited engineering program in the 1930s. As previously reported, the curriculum has undergone numerous changes, many cyclical, in the past eighty years. While the number of credits has been studied and remained rather consistent, the content of these laboratory credits has not been investigated. Second, many universities use different methods to implement laboratory experiences. This project investigated the fifteen accredited civil engineering universities in the Virginia Region as defined by the ASCE student conference. The number of classes, the credit hours, and the course content were recorded and compared among the universities. The results reveal that laboratories are still an important part of most civil engineering curriculum at most places, but the methods to implement them vary significantly.