The purpose of this Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement grant from the National Science Foundation is to develop an authoring tool that faculty can use to develop online, interactive modeling exercises. In these activities, students in structural engineering courses virtually manipulate computer models to gain an intuitive sense of the behavior of certain types of structures. Another important feature of the authoring environment is that it is highly adaptable for use by engineering instructors, depending on the course and students they are teaching and their overall instructional needs.
During the 2005-2006 academic year, a set of existing exercises that was developed with this tool were used in engineering courses at three different universities: University of Washington, University of Wyoming, and California Polytechnic State University. These pilots of the computer modeling authoring tool were intended as an initial phase of a larger possible project involving faculty at multiple universities developing their own modeling exercises for use in their classrooms.