1995 Civil Engineering Education Conference, ASCE
U.S.A., Denver 6th - 11th June 1995

by Prof. J. Witzany

The Association of American Civil Engineers, founded in 1852, has been planning the 1995 Civil Education Conference with great attention and detail. Discussions on the submitted position papers and problems for the Conference have been in progress ever since 1992.

The objectives of the Conference are:

  1. to define the current and future needs of civil engineering education and training and make recommend improvements

  2. to strengthen interaction amongst educators, students and practitioners.

The Conference is supposed to emphasize the desired integration of practitioners and educators, and basic engineering courses at undergraduate level, teaching and practice. All available position papers as well as responses to them will be summarized into the following four focus topic areas:

Several of the most important opinions have been selected after a substantial pre-conference workshop.

Theory naturally leads towards practice and practice leads towards theory as well. A teaching program, in its best shape, forms both research and practice. The faculty should first of all establish their credentials as researchers and demonstrate their capacity to do original research. Throughout their professional careers all members of the faculty should stay in touch with developments in their fields and remain professionally alive. (Ernest L. Boyer)

Science is the process of discovering and creating knowledge. Engineers share in this process, but they are also responsible for applying new knowledge to create what has never been. The intellectual mission of educators must include the cultivation of each student's ability to bridge the boundaries between disciplines and make the connections that produce deeper insights. (J. Bordogna, E. Fromm, E. W. Ernst)

The primary goals of an engineering education should be to develop, in as individualized a way as possible, the following capabilities in each student:

Civil engineering education currently seems to be focussed on teaching packets of detailed information without very much attention as to how to effectively utilize the information in terms of the bigger picture. (M. P. Gaus)

Students learn more and they are also much more motivated dealing with real engineering projects. (F. F. Videon)

The main objective of civil engineering study is to teach the students the ability to use a broad base of scientific principles and the literature to solve problems in unfamiliar subjects. (J. Birdwell)

Creativity theories can be taught, but creativity manifests itself in practice and can be learned only while doing. Design and project courses with multiple subprojects are adequate contexts. (C. Santamarina)

The traditional civil engineering courses, such as reinforced concrete design, steel design, timber design, masonry design and foundation design are often focused on design codes rather than first principles. There is no long a tradition of a year-long project in which students focus on the system as a whole, rather than detailed component design. (R. K. Miller)

"One of the reasons why I was mistaken as a learner was that my model of the world did not include the conception of technical change." (D. Marks)

Good teaching involves a mixture of knowledge at the forefront, knowing how to get it across and motivating students. All of the foregoing is augmented by those at the forefront of research, active in public service, and continuing experience in practice. (B. Hall)

Education should enlarge the capacity of the mind rather than store it with knowledge, however useful. (E. W. Kiesling)

The generation of future engineers should be educated broadly enough culturally and profoundly enough scientifically. (Ch. Pennoni, D. H. Pletta)

The majority of engineers are technically proficient but likely deficient in writing, speaking, finance, legal and human relations. (J. E. Trawinski)

Design experience and the constructability of projects will, of course, remain central to civil engineering education. (R. L. Wiegel)

If we are to promote undergraduate education, we should not begin by apologizing for our funded research. We need to place in the classroom more faculty committed to research. (P. E. Torgerson)

"Training" must fit us for jobs that have been done many times before, whereas "education" prepares us to undertake tasks that have never been done. (L. E. Jones)

We can expect great future changes which will provide challenges and opportunities for the engineers and require flexibility and adaptiveness. The only things that will remain constant are the fundamentals of engineering. (J. W. Hamel)

The engineer needs education in mathematical, physical and engineering sciences to understand the bases of engineering tools and to prepare them for a lifetime of learning. At the same time early and continuing attention to the real behavior of engineering systems can give meaning to studies of sciences and humanities at civil engineering faculties. (R. N. Wright)

Civil Engineers need to use interdisciplinary approaches to solve complex problems. These solutions require engineers with a broad knowledge base and a sound background in basic principles and their practical applications. (James T. P. Yao)

The theory in engineering study should be more emphasized. The really good and respected engineers are those with a solid understanding of engineering theory. (A. J. Sauvage)

Similar questions and problems in civil and surveying engineering will be emphasized at the 1st AECEF Symposium "Education for Civil and Environmental Engineering and Surveying" which will be held 25th - 27th September 1995 in Prague. Before the AECEF Symposium it would be extremely useful to organize a pre-conference workshop, similar to that held before the ASCE Conference in Denver. If you send your opinions on particular problems to the address of the AECEF Secretariat, the participants will receive them before the beginning of the Symposium.

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