The project is targeted at undergraduate students taking introductory courses in geotechnical engineering where stability of slopes, retaining structures and foundations are studied. Digital image acquisition is used to monitor and analyze deformations of earth models in the instructional centrifuge. Several didactic units help the students to use the image processing software to obtain data from the experiments. A manual with detailed instructions on how to build and use the instructional centrifuge and how to perform the experiments is available to both students and faculty. A workshop is being organized in which the developed educational methodology will be presented to educators from other universities and the material offered for adoption in their courses.
As the project results are adopted in undergraduate education the students have the opportunity to get involved in research like activities with hands-on experience in performing experiments, data collection and analysis. The project integrates and teaches the effective use of technology in solving engineering problems.
The project has a broader impact on the education of future civil engineers as it brings a high tech component into an engineering discipline that is generally considered to be low tech. By demonstrating to undergraduate students that Geotechnical Engineering still provides a significant intellectual challenge we hope to motivate some of the talented candidates to choose it as their career path.