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Structural Drafting course (was RE: Connections)

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Cliff:

Don't get me wrong...I think a good structural drafting/CAD course is a
good thing and will help undergraduate engineers.  OTOH, for most people
getting their Master's degree, it will be a waste of time since most
Master's degree students are either working part time or have gone back to
school.  A structural drafting course usually would only benefit either a
newbie undergrad student or someone who goes straight through to the
Master's.  It might help a fairly young (close to newbie) engineer who is
going back to school, but more than likely such a person has learned more
on the job than a classroom drafting/detailing course could provide.

So to me, the real benefit would be at the undergraduate level.

As to fitting it in at the undergraduate level, you would be suprised.
ABET accreditation course requirements does not leave hardly ANY room for
technical electives, let alone just plain, old "fun" electives.  That is a
BIG reason why many students have trouble finishing in four years...there
is not too much "slack" in the schedule for anything that doesn't occur
per "plan".  You miss one class on the "pre-determined" schedule and many
times you can kiss the 4 year time frame good bye.

Add to that, most schools have limited ability to teach classes.  In
otherwords, they can only afford to teach so many classes with the faculty
and budget that they have.  So, they tend to pick more "important" classes
such as those that meet ABET accreditation requirements and others such as
more concrete and steel design courses (in structures).  And it will only
get worse as schools don't have as much money to work with due to either
"complaints" of rising tuition and/or cutbacks from states since we don't
want "high" taxes to subsizdize the public universities.  All this is
added to the "need" to have the generalized civil degree with ABET
accredidation.  One partial solution (for structural engineering at least)
is to have an undergrad ABET accreditted structural degree, but frankly
that is not too likely.

Besides, I am of the opinion that universities should be teaching the
basic theory with some minimal practical knowledge.  It is then _OUR_
responsibility to teach the newbie engineers the practical side of things
during their 4 years of "apprenticeship" (i.e. 4 years of work experience
before licensure).  And personally, I think the structural engineering
industry fails miserably in this area.  Most want a young budding
structural engineer that is instantly productive right out of school, but
that is NOT what undergraduate eduation is about (at least in my mind).

Regards,

Scott
Ypsilanti, MI


On Mon, 1 Dec 2003, Clifford Schwinger wrote:

> Scott,
>
> I heard this excuse before (about universities not
> being able to squeeze coursework in stuctural drafting
> into the undergraduate curriculum).
>
> I should have made it clear in my original post - I
> think structural drafting should be a mandatory course
> for engineering students seeking their Master's
> degree.  This makes perfect sense to me. Students
> seeking their Master's degree in structural
> engineering are obviously specializing in structural
> engineering. There would be no civil engineering
> students "wasting" their time having to take this
> "specialized" course that they might never need to use
> in other fields of Civil Engineering.
>
> Actually, I'm confused by the arguement that
> structural drafting courses can't be "fit" into the
> undergraduate curiculum. When I was a student I had
> plenty of leeway to choose lots of electives both in
> and out of engineering. Perhaps such a course could be
> offered as an elective to undergraduates who know that
> they are on a structural engineering track.
>
> I suspect that academia does not look too highly upon
> such low-brow stuff as "structural drafting" - that's
> a shame.
>
> Topics that are held in much higher esteem by academia
> are articles such as those published in the December
> 2003 issue of the ASCE Journal of Structural
> Engineering, pages 1707-1716 titled "Form Finding of
> Sparse Structures with Continuum Topology
> Optimization".
>
> I challenge anyone to read the first page of that
> article and translate for me in English ANY ONE
> SENTENCE! I'm certain that I just set myself up for
> this one, but who cares. When you (try to) read the
> article you will get my drift about the point I'm
> trying to make.
>
> I'm not saying that seemingly obscure cutting edge
> research is not important - it is very important. I'm
> just saying that universities that can belt out
> engineers who are "plug-and-play" in their first jobs
> will rapidly gain the admiration and respect of
> engineering community. As dinosaur who is responsible
> for working with young engineers, I have a good handle
> on which universities are doing a good job at
> preparing engineers for the "real world" and which are
> not. When I hear that new hire got his/her B.S. or
> M.S. as "so and so" University I have a fairly good
> sense about whether we're getting a Yugo or a Lexus.
>
> (Boy did I wander off the original topic of this
> thread or what?!)
>
> OK, I guess I asked for it. Flame me.
>
> Cliff Schwinger
>
>
> --- Scott Maxwell <smaxwell(--nospam--at)engin.umich.edu> wrote:
> > Cliff:
> >
> > The universities can't find the time because the
> > four years for a BSE
> > degree is completely filled by courses require to
> > meet ABET accreditation
> > requirements.  This means lot's of "general" civil
> > engineering courses
> > that us structural types might never use again.
>
>
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