Evaluation of the Development of Student Skills in Visual and Computer-Aided Structural Modeling in Architecture
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Architectural design students commonly describe themselves as visual learners who dislike the application of non-geometrical math. They are resistant to the requirement they could possibly be responsible for any engineering design or analysis, and show marked resistance to team or group work as foreign to the studio culture; all of which provide challenges to successful recognition of the connection of the structural theory or behavior of systems and components to the application of those concepts through design, analysis, and planning. In an effort to attain that connection, students in introductory undergraduate and comprehensive graduate level courses in structural systems were exposed to visualization of physical assemblies, load tracing, and structural analysis through construction exercises, analytical exercises, case studies, and structural modeling exercises using analysis software. The varying success of the students through physical models and construction projects related to load investigation and appropriate application of structural models will be presented in this paper, particularly with respect to the major misapplication and incomplete conceptions of system assemblies, and in consideration of a curriculum revision that consolidated the topics of statics, mechanics of materials, analysis and structural design for the introductory course.