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RE: Engineering Education & Professional Practice

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Title: RE: Engineering Education & Professional Practice

Barry Welliver wrote:

Is it appropriate for practitioners to have any serious influence on the "means and methods" established by schools to educate students?


Most structural engineers have been doing this, perhaps unconsciously, for decades by "voting" through their hiring policies.  Over time, you develop preferences toward the graduates of certain programs.  I'll bet that when a resume from an applicant arrives, you primarily look at (1) university, (2) degree, (3) grades, and (4) specific course work, although not necessarily in that order.  Unless the candidate passes all four hurdles, he/she probably won't be invited to an interview.  If universities find that their graduates aren't highly sought after, they eventually try to adjust.

Some engineers are more proactive in pushing "reform".  I am now serving in my fourth year as a member of the CEE Department Visiting Committee at UW-Madison.  Twice a year, the department chairman and the dean of engineering get to hear my personal plea that their 123-hour BSCE degree amounts to little more than an "Introduction to Civil Engineering" degree.  Consequently, they now advise their structural engineering students to plan on pursuing a specialized MSCE degree if they want to practice in the private sector.  They also have slowly come to realize that plastics and asphalt should not be considered to be mainstream structural materials.  That's real progress!  Hopefully, others are similarly investing their time and effort in educating their alma maters.

On a broader scale, NCSEA is aggressively pursuing the development of a nationwide structural engineering certification program that will "raise the bar" for the entire profession.  The education requirements will be well beyond that of any current BSCE program, and will require minimum specific course work.  All design courses must include an emphasis on code applications.  You can read more about the certification program and its proposed education requirements at:


Stan R. Caldwell, P.E., F.ASCE
Vice President
Halff Associates, Inc.
8616 Northwest Plaza Drive
Dallas, Texas  75225
Phone:  (214) 346-6280
Fax:  (214) 739-0095
Email:  scaldwell(--nospam--at)