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RE: Future Generations of Engineers

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Then I believe that your veiw of undergraduate education is flawed
(and since it is my opinion, you are certainly within your rights to just
dismiss me a some "flake").

I want to make sure I understand your position well.  Are you saying that
the current CE undergraduate programs don't concentrate enough on
structural engineering courses but rather just produce (too) general CEs?
Or are you saying that CE undergraduate programs are not even producing
general CE graduates that even have enough of general CE knowledge?

If you are talking in terms of the former, then again I would say that
you end up using a bad example if you want engineers to be educated like
either lawyers or doctors.  The 8 year that doctors must have to get their
license _IS_ completely general.  They are not educated in such a way that
they are fully ready to do surgery or pediatrics.  They are at that point
pure general practicioners, much like a CE undergrad should be upon
graduating from a BSCE (if the school does its job).  This is also true
for lawyer too.  Do you think that a law school graduate ONLY takes
courses in contract law if that is the area that they want to end up in?
I highly doubt it.  I would strongly suspect that they still MUST take
civil law, business law, criminal law, constitutional law courses, etc.
Now, law students may have a LITTLE more room to specialize, but I would
suspect that they still really don't start dealing with specialization
until AFTER they graduate.

Now, I am not too terribly opposed to the idea of having a BSSE (Bachelor
of Science in Structural Engineering).  This is something that I could see
as being useful.  BUT, for it to be worthwhile, potential SEs would have
to know that they really want to do structural engineering very early in
their undergraduate eduction and like it or not, many don't have that
knowledge.  It would have helped me.  As I said before, I knew my freshman
year that I wanted to do structural engineering and had NO desire to do
any other areas of civil engineering.  But, I believe that I am an
exception rather than the rule.  I could see how an SE undergrad degree
could have been worthwhile for me.  I could have done mainly structural
courses with a "minor" focus in material and geotech since those areas
directly interact with structural stuff.  I could have bypassed
environmental, fluids, and thermo courses.  But, as it was, I did a
general CE program INCLUDING some extra SE courses beyond what was
required (I came close to graduating in 3.5 years and could have gotten
away with only taking 2 courses my last semester, but instead chose to
take some additional structural courses that I could then transfer to grad
school).  Now, I did get my masters degree right away, but know (from
hindsight) that I could have done just fine without it (considering I have
worked with a LOT of engineers who graduated about the same time as myself
or shortly after myself).  Did it give me an edge?  Without a doubt.  But,
I don't view it as necessary.

Now, if it is that latter, than that is something to be concerned about.
I would argue, however, making a graduate eduction be required is not
really solving the real problem, but rather putting a tiny little band-aid
on the problem without really taking the time to get our hands dirty and
fix the real problem (very common approach to things in the US because,
IMHO, we are lazy...we don't like to do the tough things unless we REALLY
have to/are force to).  To me, if your concern is the latter, then the
real problem is that schools are not doing their job (i.e. not teaching
the material that they are supposed to be teaching well).  Thus, we should
fix the current system rather than add to it.

The end result is that I have no problem with you only wanting to hire
recent graduates with MSCE degrees.  Just means that there are more
excellent future engineers with only BSCE degrees that you are missing out
on that the rest of us can hire.  I do tend to look at such a practice as
showing a lack of desire to give back to the profession as I believe that
all of us have a responsibility to train and mentor young, recent
graduates during their first 4 years (and beyond).


Ypsilanti, MI

On Sat, 26 Jul 2003, Stan Caldwell wrote:

> 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..."
> Scott:
> 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.
> Regards,
> Stan R. Caldwell, P.E.
> Dallas, Texas

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