Symposium 1997 in Odense

The Second AECEF International Symposium was held at the Engineering College of Odense, Denmark in May 5-7, 1999. The Symposium included three topics

The principal goal of the Symposium was to discuss the questions related to the implementation of high-quality study. An efficient system of control and implementation of study quality must become an integral part of liberal study systems at Universities to guarantee that the means invested into the studies will be efficiently used for the development and achievement of the presumed level of professional and intellectual potential of university graduates.

Proceedings Papers 2nd A.E.C.E.F. Symposium

May 5-7, 1997 Odense, Denmark

The general themes of the 2nd AECEF Symposium were Civil Engineering Education: Quality; Assessment; and the Influence of Trainee Service.

To focus papers and discussions on these general problems three white papers were prepared, critiqued in advance of the Symposium, and discussed in separate workshops. Additional papers on these themes were presented. Brief outlines of the Symposium Proceedings are outlined below. Including the organising committee, fifty three people from eighteen countries, including North and South America, and Eastern and Western Europe participated in the Symposium.

White Paper Theme 1: Quality in Civil Engineering Education by Manfred Federau (The Engineering College, Odense, Denmark).

This paper attempts to define Quality in education - a very difficult subject. From a definition of quality as: The level of quality of a certain education (or part of it) that can be measured by the degree of fulfilment of its goal, ". the paper proceeds to define quality at the organisional, department, and course levels with discussions of: The Process; The main Goals; Subgoals; Policies; Strategy for planning changes; Evaluation and Conclusions. This paper was designed to present ideas for discussion so appears in outline form with the overall goal of the author to contribute to an environment of engineering education, especially civil engineering education at the bachelor level.

Jutila, Aarne (Helsinki University of Technology, Finland), Quality in Civil Engineering Education, Comments

Jutila provides his personal views as a critique of the white paper of Manfred Federau with the following points:

Baldwin, Andrew & Stephanie Glendinning, (Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom), Improving the Quality of Student Projects.

The Department of Civil and Building Engineering at Loughborough University requires in most undergraduate programmes a final year project which constitutes 25% of the year mark and 12.5% of the degree requirements. The department defines a project as, "A course of study that will provide the student with experience in research process and methodology by defining and studying a problem on an individual basis". This requires the student to: define a problem and divide it into a set of aims and objectives; discover relevant sources of information; develop a methodology to collect data; analyse results and draw conclusions; organise and manage time efficiently and interact effectively with superiors and technical staff; demonstrate advanced communications skills by writing a report and presenting ideas verbally in the form of presentations; and summarising the project graphically in the form of a poster.

Fillo, Ludovit & Ivan Juricek, (Slovak Technical University, Bratislava, Slovak Republic), Some Possibilities of Improving the Quality of Education at the Faculty of Civil Engineering.

This paper relates to the Slovak Technical University. It deals with the relationship between the quality of the applicant wishing to study at the Faculty of Civil Engineering, the educational process and the resulting quality of the graduate. It also contains some notes on the method of evaluating higher learning. The problems of "Generalists or specialists, creativity or knowledge?", "Selecting of applicants for study", and "Quality assessment systems for universities" are discussed in detail.

Hahtokari, Tapane, (Vaasa Institute of Technology, Vaasa, Finland), ;Development of Quality in the Vaasa Institute of Technology

In early 1990 the Institutes of Technology in Finland were given the responsibility for the assessment and maintenance of quality of programmes, however, with reduced budgets. The response of the institutes was to formulate a quality manual based on the SFS-ISO 9004-2 specification, "Quality Management and Quality system elements, Part 2 Guidelines for Services."

To maintain an international position, Finland has developed Bachelor degree programmes in civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering with the English language as the medium of instruction. The goal is to have 30% of students from abroad in each discipline and it is expected that some measure of integration of programmes among countries will enable students to easily transfer credits.

Juhas, Pavol & Ingrid Senitkova, (Technical University, Kosice, Slovak Republic) Some Education Process Quality Experiences.

This paper relates to the programme planning in the Civil Engineering Faculty at the Technical University of Kosice. For the Master's degree students spend the first two years of a five year programme in the study of basic fundamentals. This is followed by three years emphasizing engineering science with specialization in the final year in one of the areas of Building Engineering, Structural and Transportation Engineering or Civil Environmental Engineering.

Changes in European legislation as it affects the disciplines noted above are watched carefully, as are changes in technology that affect civil engineering. In civil engineering fields, students must cope with demands that require them to renew continuously their knowledge and competence. This requires a need to change the educational process quickly.

Karelin, Vladimir & Revol Khechumov, (Moscow State Univeristy of Civil Engineering, Moscow, Russian Federation), Quality Increasing as a Target Problem of Reshaping Higher Education in Russia.

The change from centralised government control over higher education began in Russia in the 1980's. This allowed greater democracy and humanism in courses through the establishment of "Educational - Methodical Professional Associations" in 1987. Programs were organised around the former Soviet and British-American systems to allow courses of a regional or local specialisation beyond general courses which are obligatory for all institutions. Overall, there are limits to the amount of change in curriculum - not more than 5% overall and less than 10% in any discipline. The new approach is designed for a transition from a subject-oriented education to an interdisciplinary one.

Korlaet, Zeljko (University of Zagreb, Croatia) Optimal Curricula and Programme of Courses - Precondition for Education Quality.

Korlaet provides a detailed structure of the new civil engineering programme at the University of Zagreb. He notes that it is relatively easy to define goals that contribute to the improvement of teaching quality, but it is far harder to implement them in the face of financial and space restriction, the structure of the teaching staff, level of high school knowledge of students, and resistance to change.

Academic planners will be interested in the scope of the revised curriculum if only as a comparison with that at their own university.

Machacek, Josef, (Czech Technical University, Prague, Czech Republic), Quality in Civil Engineering Education - Policies.

The author, following the goals of the Federau white paper, provides descriptions of the policies and practices at his university on: educational structure; means of education; internationalism and relations with Society; student evaluation; and course evaluation. Some of the policies are in place, others are more contentious among faculty members.

Vaska, Jiri & Jiri Witzany, (Czech Technical University, Prague, Czech Republic) Study Programmes and Promotion of Quality of Civil Engineering Studies.

The search for the optimal model of studies to prepare students for work after graduation is the basis of this paper. The results of surveys of recently graduated students to determine their fitness for work in civil engineering are reported. A survey of the knowledge acquired by students after graduation, and the use of this information as feedback to the university for the purpose of programme revision on a periodic basis is outlined in detail.

Xanthopoulos, Th. & E.C. Kalkani, (National Technical University of Athens, Greece), Quality Control in Civil Engineering Education at NTUA.

The authors discuss the reorganized format of the National Technical University of Athens where Civil Engineering as one of nine faculties, has departments of: Structural Engineering; Water Resources; Transportation and Traffic Engineering; Geotechnical Engineering; and Planning and Project Management. Detailed information is presented under the topics: Administration and Research Framework, including the roles of Scientific Committees; Social Services to Students; Cultural Events; details of each Department in the Faculty; Quality Control; Undergraduate Studies; Graduate Studies; Evaluation of Students' Performance; and Evaluation of Teaching Staff. Quality control is exercised in the Faculty over teaching staff, and courses taught. Other areas, such as Services must comply with existing regulations and legislation.


White Paper Theme 2: Assessment of Civil Engineering Education by B.I.G. Barr (University of Wales, Cardiff, United Kingdom)

Assessment practice varies by country, however, the common threads of assessment, and the needs of students, the profession, and the universities have been posed in this paper in the form of thought-provoking questions. Some answers are suggested. The questions:

Federau, Manfred, (The Engineering College of Odense, Denmark), Control in Educational Organisations

The focus of the paper is Quality Control in civil engineering education. The author treats education as a product and considers the implications of this definition through discussions of: Who is involved?; Control vs. Responsibility; Control vs. Freedom of Method; Variables; Quality Assurance and Quality Control, what are the links; Advantages of Detailed Course Level Quality Assurance; Course Evaluation; Exams; System maintenance. Is this a problem?; Excuses.

Manoliu, Iacint, (Technical University of Bucharest, Romania), CESNET and CESCOOP, Two TEMPUS Projects aimed to Enhance the Co-operation Among European Civil Engineering Faculties.

After four decades of isolation, the Technical University of Bucharest has restored links with the international community with the financial support of various European Union programmes which are designed to encourage student mobility. TEMPUS and CESNET programmes are described in some detail and equivalencies between academic programmes in civil engineering at Bucharest, City University (UK), and l'Ecole des Ponts et Chaussees (France) are given. The author notes that some civil engineering academic programmes are available in English and French languages at the Technical University of Bucharest.


White Paper Theme 3: The Impact of Trainee Service on Qualifications of Civil Engineering Graduates by Roger Mayo, (Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom),

This white paper posed a number of questions on which discussion was centred. In outline form they were:

Lerau, Jacques & Gerald Pons, (Institut National des Sciences Appliquees, Tolouse, France),INSA Civil Engineering Students and Placements: A Win-Win Situation.

The authors describe their Institute's close integration between civil engineering students and Industry. As an adjunct to scientific theory of the classroom, students have practical experience in laboratories, hear invited chartered engineers as speakers, visit work sites, and have placements with industry. The experience in Industry carries back to the Institute's academic program where students are expected to write and orally present reports which analyse their experiences with regard to company life: how it is structured from the human resources, economic, and technical points of view. Since placements are arranged four times in the five year programme for each student, the authors describe the dedicated infrastructure which has been developed to manage the placement programme.

Mayo, Roger, (Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom), Trainee Service - A Personal View

This is Professor Mayo's response to his questions in his white paper based on his experiences as tutor in charge of managing sandwich programmes at Loughborough University. His opinion is that students on industry attachments have a greater gain in motivation in all aspects of their academic and working life. Details, and the benefits of the industrial placement scheme are outlined in detail: sandwich year students appear to have better marks than "straight-through" students; research project marks are often better; a high proportion of graduates go into the construction industry; and it has been recommended in an independently commissioned report that sandwich programs should be instituted at all universities.

Meyer, Zygmundt,(Technical University of Szczecin, Poland), Conception of Educating & European Civil Engineering in Management at the Technical University of Szczecin

This paper describes the organisation of new programmes at the Technical University to educate Building Engineers with regard to the new Market economy in Poland. The organisation was done with the aid of academics from Germany, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. The programs are sufficiently broad to enable graduates to be recognized within other European institutions and provide for employment in the European Union. German or English is required as a foreign language. Future enlargement into the areas of quality of building, space and city management, and management of environmental engineering are contemplated.

Viola,Rodolfo, (Faculty of Engineering, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina), Trainee Service of Civil Engineering Graduates.

Civil engineering trainee working programmes have existed at this university since 1929, largely through employment with grants from government firms. In 1989 the privatization of state firms required revision of the old agreements and today job training agreements for students, recent graduates, and teachers have been legislated. In 1995/96 there were 9 general and specific agreements and 102 trainerships with public and private enterprises and international subsidiaries. Upgrading courses are also available in co-operation with various Professional Associations.

Wald, Peter, (Acerplan Planunggesellschaft mbH, Halle, Germany), Trainee Service and Placement - A View From Inside a Company.

This paper describes the approach used in a large German multi-disciplinary architect and engineering firm to integrate students into the day to day operation of the company. The steps of integration begin with the establishment of a tutor by the company and with some ideas about funding for the student; upon arrival in Germany the students from England have to become acclimatized to a new culture. Often students who are in the programme can offer assistance to the newcomers. Student trainees are then given experience with specific project teams. Once this has taken place, trainees are given responsibility for costs and time on a single project, but with the assistance of the tutor and division managers. Over the past four years this system has worked well in spite of the fact that the students are selected by the sending university and the receiving organization has had no opportunity for face to face interviews. From observation the key qualities required in trainees are the ability to communicate, organise their work and self-learning and to be motivated.


Anyone who wishes to buy a copy of the Proceedings should contact Professor S.A.Hansen at the Civil Engineering Department of the Engineering College of Odense. The cost will be DDK 100 by International Money Order which will cover postage and packing.