The 3rd AECEF Symposium - Success Again!

By Professor Manfred Federau
AECEF Board member

8 to 10 September AECEF launched its third international project, “CELTic”, Civil Engineering Learning Technology, in Cardiff.

The symposium had attracted more than 50 delegates representing 17 countries from 4 continents: USA, UK, Denmark, Greece, Czech Republic, Belgium, Norway, Portugal, Canada, Australia, Romania, Austria, Republic of Ireland, Japan, Switzerland, Slovenia and The Russian Federation.

The AECEF president, professor Jiøí Witzany of ÈVUT, Prague emphasised in his opening speech the importance of - alongside making students familiar to computerised problem solving - also to actively use information technology in civil engineering educational learning processes. The course of the symposium showed that this is certainly the case.

The symposium proceedings are a state of the art source of information on Computer Aided Learning alongside adjoining subjects, such as Problem Based and/or Project Organised Learning, Distance Learning, etc. They contain thirty-four quality papers, twenty-six of which were presented in eight sessions under five headings: Integration into the Curriculum, Courseware Development, Professional Development, Internet Based Learning and Institutional Strategies.

The organisers had chosen to run sessions where three or four presentations were followed by a discussion where the authors functioned as a panel. This worked very well; the extensive appetite on discussion showed that this approach enhanced the quality of the sessions.

Bearing in mind that many of the authors are heavily involved in software development, one could have feared that the discussion would be focussed on the problems of creating IT tools. This was not the case, in fact the read thread through the panel discussions was pedagogical aspects, especially the problem of evaluation and the process of assessment.

Another lesson learned by this symposium is that in comparison with the preceding two symposia is that a specific theme provides better input; with very few exceptions the papers were consistently factual on the main theme. This event showed that AECEF is capable and flourishing.

The social programme was no exception to the quality of arrangements. The delegates were impressed by the development going on in the Cardiff bay area, and the scoop of having two NASA astronauts to attend the conference diner must have contributed considerably to the publicity of the event.

On behalf of the AECEF Board I have the privilege to offer warm thanks to the organisers, to Rob Lloyd and Lynne More for the professional and academic side, to Cherrie Summers and Aderyn Reid for technical and spatial arrangements, to students giving on-site support and not least to Ben Barr. His presence in the wings was noticed as a valuable factor for the success of arrangements. They have set very high standards for the people who are given the assignment of arranging the fourth symposium.

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