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Undergraduate Student Experience In A Multidisciplinary Architecture-Civil Engineering Research Project
This paper examines the learning experiences of undergraduate students who conducted research as part of a multidisciplinary team. The research project involved five undergraduate students with different backgrounds in engineering as well as in arts and sciences, supervised by four architecture and civil engineering faculty and their three PhD students. The research investigates the behavior of new Tessellated Structural-Architectural (TeSA) systems made of repetitive patterns of tiles (tessellations) that are both aesthetically appealing and load bearing. The undergraduate students worked on three tasks: (1) studying the behavior of TeSA shear walls using small scale earthquake simulator tests, (2) studying the shear capacity of reinforced concrete TeSA tiles, and (3) studying the effect of different shapes and interlocking patterns on the performance of small scale TeSA beams. The undergraduate students used hands-on experiments and laboratory testing to study the performance of 3D printed or prefabricated interlocking tessellations. This paper discusses the technical skills, fundamental concepts, and power skills (communicating, writing, presenting, etc.) that the students obtained, as well as the challenges that they encountered. The students found the process of developing and executing hands-on experiments and analyzing experimental results effective for learning new technologies and fundamental concepts. These concepts included 3D printing methods, natural frequency of a structure, and structural response subjected to a shear force. Peer learning, collaboration between students with different backgrounds, and group discussions with all the team members facilitated a deeper understanding and broader perspective on design, performance, and construction of TeSA systems. The project took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the students found working and meeting remotely challenging at times. Proper guidance and timely feedback by the project investigators and their PhD students helped with resolving the challenges.