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RE: Future Generations of Engineers

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I agree entirely with you but with a couple of caveats:
1) I took my technical courses in Architecture at U of I where I
completed three of the five year curriculum, Civil Engineering at both
Loyola Marymount University and California State University - Northridge
Campus (both of which had a five year program). Undergrad courses to
satisfy liberal arts courses were divided between Southern Illinois
University (Carbondale), DePaul U. (Chicago), and Loyola (Chicago).
Still these were transferred (DePaul and Loyola were courses in
accounting and marketing as I took a hiatus to enter a family business
but returned to engineering seven years later). The only reason I did
not obtain my degree was due to the darn residency requirements and with
seventeen years (at the time) separating my courses, more courses failed
to transfer as the course descriptions no longer matched. Since I worked
days and went to school nights (and lost a foot of intestine in the
process) it was no longer feasible for me to finish the degree since I
had no interest in practicing outside of low-rise buildings, seismic
retrofits, foundation design and expert witness (although I only agreed
to this in the last four years). 

What a waste it would be to an adult with a family to be prevented from
using his knowledge and drive to return to school and work to become an
engineer. I agree with Scott that what is required of an engineer for
the majority of buildings designed by engineers is a strong
understanding of the principles of civil engineering. The schools that I
attended made us take Steel, Concrete and Wood classes while Masonry was
a alternative. All of them required foundation design as part of the
basic Civil curriculum. Since I spent more than the normal number of
years in two or three majors, I had time to go beyond the undergrad
mechanics courses and opted for my choice courses to be in advanced
mechanics of materials.

As an adult with resresponsibilities found that I was "interested" in
engineering as all of the courses I previously had difficulty came
together in my engineering classes and finally made sense to me. To
compensate, I took non-college courses in structural engineering review
classes with Bill Porsche in Los Angeles when Bill was  around 81 years
old and still teaching in his old office. The class was beyond me when I
took it, but I wanted a preview and as much information as I could

What ASCE (although I not familiar with their "POSITION" but understand
from Scott that they seem to agree with Stan Caldwell) proposes and what
Stan seems to support would be a shame to those of us who have strived
hard to become good engineers by working on the application of our
engineering foundation. 

One final comment - California is not the leader in Wood design. I think
Frank Woste PhD, SE would be insulted at this since the most
advancements in wood design are documented within the great work coming
out of Virginia Tech - certainly not a high risk area unless I missed it
being on the New Madrid Fault.


-----Original Message-----
From: Scott Maxwell [mailto:smaxwell(--nospam--at)] 
Sent: Monday, July 28, 2003 1:45 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: Future Generations of Engineers


And again I would argue that someone with a bachelor's degree is not
supposed to be "good" for any full project level upon graduation.  That
is the purpose of the 4 years of "experience" get a newly graduated
engineer that has been taught the basic principles (and understands
them) of civil engineering (i.e. stress-strain relationships, Mohr's
etc) in their undergraduate education able to get to a level that they
can now practically apply them on a project level.  For someone who gets
an undergraduate degree in civil with a structural concentration, I
expect them to be able to understand basic analysis methods (equations
of equilibrium and so forth) and be able to design simple members
(beams, columns, etc) in steel and concrete.  As a bonus, it would be
nice for them also to be able to design basic members in masonry and
maybe wood, but considering most universities don't offer such courses
and most projects involving structural engineers don't involve wood
(unless you are working in a state such as California where residences
get designed by engineers on a somewhat regular basis).  Beyond that I
expect the rest of "practical" knowledge to be learned on the job in the
first 4 years and beyond.  About the only exception that I might like to
see is some sort of formal education on wind and seismic loading (the
theory and how that theory translates in to the code provisions)...but
only because the code provisions for those loadings have gotten more
complicated over the years (FYI, since I had some extra classes in that
area while doing my bachelor's degree, I came out of school knowing more
in that area than many of the MUCH older engineers that I first worked
with in my first two years who presumably went through school when the
CE programs were NOT "120 credits"...and I did not NEED my master's
degree to get to that point...I can admit that is likely an "isolated"

The end result is that you (and many like you who seem to behind the
push) and I have much different expectations as to what a recent
graduate of a BSCE is supposed to be capable of doing.  You and those
behind the ASCE push (at least from my perspective) seem to want recent
grads to be at the level that I would expect someone with 4 years of
experience who is getting ready to take the PE to have.

I would say that we just chaulk it up as "to each their own" but the
ASCE push (and others like it) ends up forcing it into my face and
others who think along the same lines as I do.  Thus, I voice my opinion
in opposition, even though the ASCE leadership does not seem to care too
much what the members like myself think.  Ultimately, I may not oppose
it so much if someone who is in favor could come up with a reasonable
explanation as to what the real problem is and why making a masters
degree (or equivalent) if the only/best solution to the problem.  But
instead I hear bogus answers like "current grads aren't really good
enough because of 120 credit programs , but, hey, we will still
grandfather them in when we do reach the point of making these changes
in the requirements" or "it will increase the compenstation" or "we need
to be more like other professionals such as doctors and lawyers in term
of required education".

BTW, your arguements would at least have some semblence of rationality
to me if I could relate to 120 credit programs.  But, I have YET to run
across any such program (although I don't doubt that they are out
there). It makes it tough for me to see something to critize when the
thing being critized does not exist in my area.  EVERY single civil
engineering program that I am aware of in the state of Michigan has at
LEAST a 128 credit requirement for the BSCE (Michigan 128, Michigan
State 128, Lawrence Tech 131, Wayne State 133, and Michigan Tech 130).


Ypsilanti, MI

On Mon, 28 Jul 2003, Caldwell, Stan wrote:

>Or are you saying that CE undergraduate programs are not even producing

>general CE graduates that even have enough of general CE knowledge?
>Enough general CE knowledge to do what?  In an increasingly specialized

>world, what exactly is a general CE graduate with a 120-hour BSCE good 
>for other than general land development engineering?

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