Enriching architecture courses with Engineering knowledge
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BACKGROUND Designing sustainable structures is a shared responsibility among architects, engineers, planners and contractors. While the process requires good communication between engineers and architects, professional bodies often identify this as an aspect that still needs improvement. A claim is often made that architecture students are not adequately equipped with the basic engineering knowledge, which enables them to be component and conversant in the technical jargon that engineers use. Therefore, to initiate such an improvement at the university level is relevant. Basic engineering knowledge includes, among others, being able to assess the structural, thermal and environmental aspects of a design from an engineering perspective. The course "Advanced Architecture Studio 2" is offered for the first time at Griffith University in Semester 2, 2013, and is designed to enhance engineering knowledge into the architectural program and exposes architecture students to principles of sustainable designs. PURPOSE Expose architecture students to basic engineering knowledge and enhance the students' multi-discipline competencies to prepare them for their future career. APPROACH This innovative approach were conducted during the first six weeks of the second semester of 2013 and involved postgraduate students from the architecture program (Griffith School of Environment), and three academic members from architecture, structural and environmental engineering. This course is convened and taught by the academic member in architecture, and was therefore architecturally orientated. Each academic member from engineering delivered a workshop on his area of expertise and assisted students in key points of their design. The workshops introduced students to the use of timber (to be used in the project) in structural designs and Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). Assessment focused on the process of incorporating sustainable design as an architect rather than engineering knowledge. After each workshop, students were surveyed to obtain feedback on (i) the effectiveness of the engineer in communicating his ideas to the architects, (ii) how to best communicate engineering principles to architects and (iii) if students thought that the ideas introduced were useful to their future profession as architects. Additionally, at the start and completion of the project, the revised two-factor study process questionnaire (R-SPQ_2F) (Biggs et. al. (2001)) mapped students' initial and change in approaches to learning, therefore quantifying if students engaged with the course. RESULTS At the end of the teaching period, architecture students acquired better understanding of engineering basic knowledge and engineering technical jargon, and were able to incorporate the skills learnt into their designs. Consequently, it is believed that students are now better equipped to communicate effectively with engineers. CONCLUSIONS Better communication between architects, civil and environmental engineers is essential to design sustainable structures. This innovative approach is designed to better prepare architects for their professional career through increasing their exposure to engineering principles, usually lacking in architecture programs. It is recommended that the course be offered by both the Griffith School of Environment (Architecture) and School of Engineering to expose engineering students to architectural principles.
Proceedings of the 2013 Australasian Association of Engineering Education (AAEE) Annual Conference
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