loading page

An Industry-Academic Collaboration to Develop a Geology Field Trip to Improve Students' Learning Experience
  • +3
  • Walter Yerk,
  • Patricia Gallagher,
  • Kristin Sample-Lord,
  • Philip S. Getty,
  • Loÿc Vanderkluysen,
  • Robert Swan, Jr.
Walter Yerk
Drexel University, Department of Civil Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Corresponding Author:wgy23@drexel.edu

Author Profile
Patricia Gallagher
Drexel University, Department of Civil Architectural and Environmental Engineering
Author Profile
Kristin Sample-Lord
Villanova University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Author Profile
Philip S. Getty
Boucher & James Inc.
Author Profile
Loÿc Vanderkluysen
Drexel University, Department of Biodiversity, Earth & Environmental Science
Author Profile
Robert Swan, Jr.
Drexel University, Department of Civil Architectural and Environmental Engineering
Author Profile


Geotechnical engineering and geology faculty at Drexel and Villanova Universities and a graduate teaching assistant collaborated with an environmental hydrogeologist from a local civil engineering firm to develop a field trip for their undergraduate engineering geology courses. At Villanova, Geology for Engineers is required for all civil and environmental engineering students. Similarly, at Drexel, Geologic Principles for Infrastructure & Environmental Engineering is a required course for all civil, architectural and environmental engineering students. The learning goal of both courses is to have students understand how basic topics in geology and geomorphology apply to civil and environmental engineering practice. The field trip focuses on the core elements of the courses: the importance of rock type on engineering properties, the effects of plate tectonics and weathering on rocks, and the interaction of human activity with the lithosphere and hydrosphere. The team selected Wissahickon Valley Park as the location for the field trip because it provides a dynamic stream ecosystem within a geologically diverse setting that has been highly impacted by urban development of the surrounding City of Philadelphia. The engineering aspects bring novelty into an established practice of classical geology field trips. In addition to examining outcrops and evidence of geologic processes, the students were required to critically identify engineering issues associated with the infrastructure in the valley, storm water management, and the impact of development on the stream valley. From anonymous surveys disseminated after the first offering of the field trip, students indicated the trip had enriched their learning experience, improved their ability to apply basic geology knowledge in a real-world context, and increased their interest in how rock, soil, water, and climate play roles in infrastructure engineering. Without exception, the students agreed that the field trip should be offered again. This presentation will describe the development of the collaboration between the educators and practitioners, the resulting field trip and materials that have been adopted at both universities. We will also update the surveys’ results from two more trips of the fall of 2018.