Applications Of Computer

Topics: Computer, Application software, Personal computer Pages: 9 (3919 words) Published: February 21, 2015
By C. Hendrickson, 1 A. M. ASCE, A. Pasquale, 2
W. Robinson, 3 and M. Rossi-Velasco 4

ABSTRACT: Computer aided instruction (CAI) offers numerous advantages for education and training when properly designed and implemented. Recent computer developments in hardware and software enhance the effectiveness and reduce the cost of CAI. We review recent developments, using CAI programs designed and developed by the writers as examples. Experience with the use of CAI in a large general contracting and construction management firm is also reported. Our survey concludes that CAI can now be widely adopted for training and education supplements in civil engineering.


In the past few decades, n u m e r o u s enthusiasts have predicted a revolution in education through the adoption of computer aided instruction (CAI). While the CAI revolution m a y still b e distant, some n e w developments make CAI a practical and extremely beneficial supplement for education a n d on-the-job training in civil engineering. For example: • Construction executives use a microcomputer-based business game to develop and test m a n a g e m e n t strategies as part of Stanford University's continuing education program (2). Each student is challenged to create a profitable contracting firm in the game, b u t the real payoff comes from n e w insights into techniques a n d strategies. • Employees at Mellon-Stuart Company, a large general contracting and construction m a n a g e m e n t firm, routinely use a microcomputerbased tutorial on the use of the company's computerized scheduling system. The tutorial illustrates the action of the scheduling system and reflects Mellon-Stuart Company's specific approach to scheduling and reporting. The tutorial is faster a n d more enjoyable t h a n plowing through manuals or facing the scheduling system without any introduction.

• Virtually all civil engineering courses at Carnegie-Mellon University require CAI applications. Application programs such as equation solvers, spreadsheets and text processing remove m u c h of the drudgery from problem solving and permit the assignment of more extensive a n d complicated problems. For example, solution of rectilinear motion dynamic problems is a trivial exercise using the equation solving application packages. 'Assoc. Prof., Dept. of Civ. Engrg., Carnegie-Mellon Univ., Pittsburgh, PA 15213.

Mgr., System Development, Mellon Stuart Systems Group, Pittsburgh, PA. 3
Vice Pres., Mellon Stuart Systems Group, Pittsburgh, PA.
Research Asst, Dept. of Civ. Engrg., Carnegie-Mellon Univ., Pittsburgh, PA. Note.—Discussion open until December 1, 1986. To extend the closing date one month, a written request must be filed with the ASCE Manager of Journals. The manuscript for this paper was submitted for review and possible publication on December 26, 1985. This paper is part of the Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering, Vol. 112, No. 3, July, 1986. ©ASCE, ISSN 0733-9380/86/0003-0194/ $01.00. Paper No. 20762.


Many more civil engineering CAI applications could be cited. CAI has come of age and is achieving widespread use.
The original applications of CAI involved batch processing and punch cards, so interactive, "give-and-take" sessions were impossible. Nevertheless, civil engineers were pioneers in CAI, particularly with the development of construction management games (1,3). In these games, students were faced with complicated decision problems in bidding and project management. The computer program was used to evaluate the impacts of student's decisions and to simulate the environment of construction projects. More recently, interactive tutorials and games have been introduced in which students communicate directly with the program, and answers or impacts are evaluated immediately. Encouraging these applications are some significant new developments in computer hardware and software. First,...

References: COl, July, 1969, pp. 25-38.
2. "Arousing Managerial Skills," Engineering News Record, Dec. 13, 1984, p . 20.
6. Walker, D. F., and Hess, R. D., Instructional Software, Wadsworth Publishing
Co., Belmont, Calif., 1984.
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