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RE: Future Generations of Engineers

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There you go again, cutting off avenues to those who can learn adequate skills in the field of structural engineering without advanced degrees above a BS in Civil Engineering. If an engineer wishes to obtain more educational tools (advance mechanics, advanced masters courses) he is capable of doing this on his own, but engineers need more field experience than they need classroom theoretical work. Granted, you may require higher degrees of education for the type of projects that you produce, but most of us in the smaller, independent sector need understanding of the principles and practical application as well as the understanding of code intent (which the code writes have done everything they could to make it next to impossible to interpret) than they do more advanced degrees.
I 'm  not debating strong math and science skills, but these are offered in the undergrad science programs and there was little change in the math and science curriculums whether I went to school at U of I in Chicago (Circle Campus) or Loyola Marymount or even Cal-State where I completed my engineering courses. All schools were five years and all required a basic foundation of courses that were non-engineering related. In fact - Richard Weingardt would strongly disagree with you in your past comments about the need for more "rounded" courses in addition to the technical courses as he goes as far as to impress upon engineers the need to be refined in art and literature. While I might disagree where the choice is Bach or the Beatles, I do agree that the ability for engineers to communicate on a level beyond science is very important and the probable rational for the requirement in a core or base foundation in philosophy, literature, art and communication skills (California has a basic level of communication skills that a student must pass before graduating and I hope this is typical in each state).
Your error is assuming that engineering disregards the smaller firms who have little to do with building over four stories in height. In addition, these engineers, in my opinion, out number those who work in firms that compete for projects at the size and level that yours does.
My solution to this is to fit the education to that portion of the industry the student chooses to participate. Most know where they wish to start, but few understand where they will finally end up - on their own responsible for making their own living and not having the security of a future that was to be had between 1945 and 1974. These days no longer exist.
What I find most offensive on your strong position for advanced degrees is that it is influential in the path that NCSEA is promoting. As I have said numerous times - I would rather take a student with strong basic skills and mold him  or her in practice rather than expect that they will be useful with either a masters or a PHD. I believe those with advanced degrees are best values to academia than they are to those who practice code interpretation. When I consider the work that Virginia Tech has done in wood I am amazed as this is support information that we in the field rely upon and need. However, to blindly accept a perforated wall design in a region of high risk takes a lot of thought, understanding and intuitive knowledge that only comes with understanding the practical application of our basic engineering skills and an in-depth understanding of the interpretation of code and what the code writers perceived. This is apprentice and practitioners responsibility - not academia.
Dennis S. Wish, PE
 -----Original Message-----
From: Caldwell, Stan [mailto:scaldwell(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Friday, July 25, 2003 12:25 PM
To: 'seaint(--nospam--at)'
Subject: RE: Future Generations of Engineers

In the midst of a lengthy post, Scott Maxwell wrote:

"Thus, if you really want the engineering profession to emulate the legal or medical profession, then you are essentially advocating have future engineers take a 4 year 'pre-engineering' undergraduate degree..."


It is my belief that most CURRENT structural engineering students NOW begin their education by pursuing a "4 year pre-engineering undergraduate degree".  That degree is the BSCE, or Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering Degree, which (at 120-124 credits/hours) has degenerated into an "introduction to civil engineering degree".  That is why a MSCE degree, or equivalent, has become necessary for the majority of these students.  Alternatively, many students earning a BSAE, or Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering Degree, are adequately prepared to enter the profession without the need of a graduate degree.  When I write "enter the profession", please understand that I mean as an engineering intern, not as a professional engineer.


Stan R. Caldwell, P.E.
Dallas, Texas