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Civil-Comp Proceedings
ISSN 1759-3433
CCP: 2/3
Edited by: B.H.V. Topping
Paper XXX.4

A Problem Solving Approach to the Teaching of Civil Engineering Computing

P. Swannell and L.T. Isaacs

Department of Civil Engineering, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Full Bibliographic Reference for this paper
P. Swannell, L.T. Isaacs, "A Problem Solving Approach to the Teaching of Civil Engineering Computing", in B.H.V. Topping, (Editor), "Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Civil and Structural Engineering Computing", Civil-Comp Press, Edinburgh, UK, pp 435-438, 1985. doi:10.4203/ccp.2.30.4
A computing course for civil engineers which merely seeks to achieve familiarity with the vocabulary, grammar and structure of one or more procedural languages will be inadequate. Achievement of competency in the solution of 'real world' problems requires that the engineer should appreciate the strengths, and weaknesses, of the computational tools available to him. Program structure and the clarity, generality and convenience of any solution strategy, are major considerations. Program structure must be effectively communicated to interested third parties either for checking purposes or for necessary revision. Structure must be clear if program reliability is to be established and there must be an awareness that solution strategies appropriate for machine solution may be quite different from those used in manual computation.

We describe a course for undergraduate civil engineering students. It is oriented towards problem-solving via structured programming and a facility with suitable computational strategies. Advantages and disadvantages of such an approach are described. We conclude that the computational effectiveness achieved by participants is significantly superior to that achieved by attendance at 'traditional' programming courses provided by specialist computer scientists.

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