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RE: Should Structural Engineering be Separated from Civil Enginee ring

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Title: RE: Should Structural Engineering be Separated from Civil Engineering

Mr. Marlou B. Rodriguez wrote:

I graduated from a school that concentrates on teaching students to be
structural engineers instead of Civil engineers.  The Architectural
Engineering program in Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo is one of the few schools
that focuses on Structural Engineering.  In a 4 year program (Really 5 years)
the students get 3 years of solid Structural Engineering classes and 2 years
of architectural design classes which are focused for structural engineering
students.  This program gets students hands on experience with design from the
very beginning.  When students graduate from the ARCE program they are
familiar with most of the building codes and techniques of design.  This
program is great if you want to become a structural engineer and not a civil
engineer.

Dear Marlou:

I couldn't agree with you more.  Long, long ago ('70/'71) and far, far away (UW-Madison) I got my BS and MS in Civil Engineering.  I was one of those odd ones who started college wanting to be a structural engineer, and never switched.  Over the many years since then, I have probably hired more than 100 structural engineers.  With very few exceptions, they have all held MSCE degrees with a structural specialty because, in my mind, a BSCE degree does not provide enough structural course work (especially advanced design courses).

In the last few years, my attitude has changed somewhat.  As a founding member of ASCE's Architectural Engineering Division in 1993, and as its chairman when it became the Architectural Engineering Institute last year, I have had a rare opportunity to work with a number of America's leading AE practitioners and educators.  Also, it has finally occurred to me that the best structural engineer that I have ever worked with holds a BSAE degree, not a CE degree.  After studying the curriculums at the 13 or so universities that offer AE degrees I have concluded that, from a structural engineering perspective, a BSAE is the equivalent (or near-equivalent) of a MSCE.  That is because, at a BS level, the AE gets much more structural design and analysis work than his CE classmate.

Thus, anyone wanting to work in my group must now have excellent communication skills, outstanding grades, total disregard for the time of day, a good sense of humor, and one of the following:

1.      MSCE
2.      BSAE
3.      BSCE, with exceptional experience and/or very special skills

Regards,

Stan R. Caldwell, P.E.
Vice President

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