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FIU Ready to Pivot to Online When Needed

Series of educational videos helps professor flip the classroom and changes students style of learning

Dr. David Garber has a vision for how technology can enhance learning and had already started putting lectures and other work online for asynchronous learning (the videos and lectures students can watch on their own time) when he received a grant from the PCI Foundation. So he was in a unique position of being prepared when the call came to pivot to remote learning at Florida International University (FIU). He launched his PCI Studio in January 2020, so 2020/2021 was the first full year for the Precast Studio.

For his new course “Precast Concrete Design” (CGN 4930/5930) he created 576 pages of types notes and 817 slides with the help several different people from industry and academia. He also developed weekly assignments, two projects, and a unique final exam structure was used to assess student learning. The course was offered for the first time as a cross-listed (both undergraduate and graduate students) course in Fall 2020. Students completed a fully precast building design and precast bridge design for two class projects.

He modified and refined the notes of “Prestressed Concrete Design” (CES 4711/5715) to be better suited for a hybrid course setting and created 46 videos were created for this course and uploaded to YouTube® with a total of over 23 hours of content. These videos have more than 50,000 views. Additionally, six industry speakers came in to speak on a variety of precast topics.

The PCI Big Beam Competition was used as the final project in CES 4711/5715. The student teams (consisting of both undergraduate and graduate students) presented their designs to a panel of industry judges during a three-hour virtual design competition who selected two groups to have their beams built at Coreslab Structures (Miami) Inc. The two groups successfully completed the Big Beam testing in June 2021 and sent in their report and video to PCI for judging.

Unique Program Aspects

  • Dr. Garber developed a new, unique course “Precast Concrete Design” under this studio, which is available to both undergraduate and graduate students.

  • Typically, “Prestressed Concrete Design” is a graduate-level course. “Prestressed Concrete Design” under this studio at FIU is offered to both undergraduate and graduate students each year.

  • The hybrid learning environment developed for “Prestressed Concrete Design” as part of this studio is another unique component. The format gives more time for student interaction with industry through class presentations and the final design competition.

  • The large international audience that is being exposed to prestressed concrete design through the PI’s YouTube® channel. Dr. Garber receives many comments and emails from his audience thanking him for these explanatory videos.

  • The final exam structure used in his courses is unique and has received praise from instructional designers at FIU.

  • The large number of people from industry involved in class presentations, review and advising on class notes and assessments, and the design competition.

  • The student participation in the PCI Big Beam competition. Only a limited number of schools are able to participa