Olivet Nazarene University

NCEES Engineering Education Award $10,000 winner

Martin D. Walker School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

Project: Logan Nazarene Campground


Students: Miles VanderKlok, Hannah Taggart, Michael Hill, and Nathan Hart

Faculty: Quentin Scott Ragan

Professional Engineers: Quentin Scott Ragan

Additional participants: Jon Rambow and Rob Paugh

What did you like best about participating in this project?

I enjoyed the team environment that we had for this project which involved great communication and connection with our faculty mentor and project sponsor. The project itself was very exciting to work on, and it allowed us a lot of room to be creative in our design choices.

What did you learn?

I have taken away a lot of experience from this project. I experienced completing an entire engineering building design. I enjoyed all aspects and design phases of the project. I learned how to complete a professional set of construction documents that allows the building to start construction. I learned how to efficiently work with other engineers to solve a complex engineering project and create a successful final design.

How did the participation of professional engineers improve the experience?

The participation of professional engineers and our faculty mentor significantly improved the experience when working on our project. We learned a lot from them, and they provided a lot of great insight into our design. They helped challenge and push us to come up with an effective final product.

What do you think the engineers learned from working with students on this project?

I think that the engineers may have learned that if they invest time into engineering students that it will set up those students for success in the engineering industry and for their future careers.

What did you like best about participating in this project

I liked the responsibility we got to share and managing our own project. We did it with a lot of help and direction, but it gave us a chance to dig into the material more and connect a lot of dots in what we had been learning for a few years.

What did you learn?

I learned about teamwork and communication, and I learned a lot about the basic construction and load path in a residential-type structure, as well as where a lot of the code standards come from.

How did the participation of professional engineers improve the experience?

The professional engineer guided us through a lot of the design process and gave us direction, with much practical advice and resources, without overtaking our chance to work through the problems ourselves. Besides just getting a potentially successful design, our knowledge was also deepened throughout the process, so that we could and still can apply it to other situations. I think we learned some about how things work in the real world versus in a classroom.

What do you think the engineers learned from working with students on this project?

To write down who has which book. 🙂

I think it caused our instructor, the engineer, to remember and find where certain design standards came from and to walk through reasoning and analysis in a more detailed way than is required for a company or client directly. It may have helped to refresh and/or challenge their working knowledge as they guided us through it.

What did you like best about participating in this project?

What I liked the most working on this project was my team. Each team member worked as hard as possible to create a great cabin design. We would each use our previous knowledge and experience from the classes and internships we have had. I had the best team I could hope for.

What did you learn?

I learned a lot from this project. Before this I had never gone through the full process of designing a building, and it was as rigorous and time consuming as one would expect. It incorporated so much from many classes all in one project. This helped me get a much better understanding of what I have learned before in classes and gave me more insight in how a building is designed and constructed.

How did the participation of professional engineers improve the experience?

Professor Ragan was immensely helpful in this project. Without him there is no way we could have done this project. With his numerous years of experience, whenever we would have a question, he would know how to address our issue or at least where we could find the answer.

What do you think the engineers learned from working with students on this project?

I believe that through our group Professor Ragan learned how to better steer students in the right direction without doing the work for them. The purpose of our project was for us to learn and gain experience from it. Therefore, the mentors are in a difficult position to find the balance between giving the students enough information for them to understand what to do while not just giving the answer. During our project, Professor Ragan did a great job with this, but I feel that he has gotten even better with it through assisting in our project and others.

What value does a real-world project bring to the students?

The value is in preparation for the “real world”. This project exposes students to the multi-faceted nature of real-world projects, the collaboration required, and the engineering expertise needed beyond collegiate academic training for completion. Lessons learned in this project directly help the students in their careers.

How do you decide which projects to work on?

Projects are decided based on client and community needs, value to student learning, and alignment with the university’s mission “Education with a Christian Purpose”.

How did this project prepare students for professional practice?

Even though the project was small in scale, the project was comprehensive in scope.  The students were required to consider multiple aspects of engineering, such as structural, mechanical, electrical, and geotechnical. Architectural considerations were also required. This comprehensive scope required the students to not only work on a particular aspect of engineering, but also understand how a particular aspect fits with the overall project requirements.

What advice do you have for other programs wanting to add similar collaborative projects to their curriculum?

Be patient with the students, be prepared to spend long hours guiding the students, and be willing to research unknown engineering concepts to explain to the students.