Teaching Improvement Grants for Civil Engineering

16 January 2008

Abbas ElZein
Abbas ElZein

Abbas El-Zein is the leader of a group awarded funds for the Development of Online Tools for Teaching, Self-Teaching and Assessing Numeracy Skills using Excel. Tim Wilkinson has shared in a teaching grant with the School of Aeronautical, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering for new materials testing equipment.

Abbas's two-year project's goal is to develop a set of discipline-specific teaching, self-directed learning and assessment content materials that will assist students develop the skills or groups of skills that they need to use Microsoft Excel effectively. Teaching staff often assume, erroneously, that students arrive in their classrooms already able to use spreadsheet software efficiently and effectively. The MS Excel Interactive Tool (EXIT) will use discipline-specific, easily-understood examples drawn from the Faculties of Science, and the Faculty of Engineering and IT to assist students develop and enhance their spreadsheet skills.

The EXIT materials will be developed so as to be utilised as a stand-alone, self-directed learning package or to support classroom-teaching. In self-directed learning mode, a University of Sydney student looking to assess and/or improve his or her MS Excel skills will be able to conduct several activities.

Collaborators on the project are:

  • Dr Siegbert Schmid (Faculty of Science)
  • Assoc Prof David Airey (Faculty of Engineering and IT)
  • Dr Tom Hubble (Faculty of Science)
  • Dr Simon Poon (Faculty of Engineering and IT)
  • Dr Eleanor Bruce (Faculty of Science)


Dr Xiaozhou Liao from AMME has shared in $43,320 with Tim Wilkinson for aTable mounted materials testing system. This will be housed in AMME but will be useful for civil students in courses such as Materials.