J.M. Ortega, F.B. Varona, J.M. López

University of Alicante (SPAIN)
The introduction of the European Higher Education Area in engineering degrees has meant important changes in the learning and teaching methodologies and in the planning of the subjects. The Civil Engineering and Architecture degrees have not been exempt from these important changes. Within the European Higher Education Area, the practical classes play an important role and especially the computer practical classes, based on the learning of specific software.
In the case of the reinforced concrete structures field, the use of this specific software and also the development of specific computer applications have a lot of interest. This is due to the fact that the study of reinforced concrete structures of reasonable complexity includes a high amount of calculations, usually with iterative processes, which make very difficult their calculation by hand.
Besides, the acquisition of skills related to the use and development of reinforced concrete structures software could be also useful for the students in their future job, because the globalized labour market of engineers brings with it the possibility that the students can carry out a high amount of different tasks during their professional career. As a consequence, in general, computer practical classes produce a better training of future engineers and architects, and especially in the case of reinforced concrete structures field.
In this work, it is shown the experience and the results obtained during the computer practical classes of the subject “Reinforced and prestressed concrete structures” of 3rd course of Civil Engineering degree at University of Alicante (Spain). This subject has a total of 6 ECTS, and the duration of computer practical classes is 1 ECTS.
Regarding these computer practical classes, they are organized in three sessions. During the first session, it is explained to the students the use of a specific software of analysis of reinforced concrete structures. The computer program used is CYPECAD and it is focused on the analysis of building structures. The main advantage of this program is that it is available a free students version, which facilitates the work of the students by themselves. At the second session, a computer application is developed using the program Microsoft Excel. This application consists in an interaction diagram between axial and bending stresses for concrete piers, reinforced with a specific number of steel bars. During the third session, another application is developed, in this case for calculating the steel reinforcement of concrete walls.
Finally, it has been observed good results of these computer practical classes and great interest in them for part of the students, with the added value to develop different skills of students very useful for their future professional career.