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RE: Is ASCE Competing Against Us?

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Mark:

You managed to offer up what is my favorite "excuse" those that argue that
we need to force young engineers to get a graduate/Masters degree...since
other professionals (i.e. doctors, lawyers, architects) do, we need to do
it too.  Actually, you also kind of raise the other reason that some use
to support the idea of required graduate education...that undergraduate
programs/education are being cut in length (i.e. fewer credit hours).

Now, personally, I don't buy the whole since doctors and lawyers have
graduate education that we should too.  I give two reasons why that
arguement does not fly with me.  First is the "flippant"
response/reason...to quote my parents (and I am sure many other parents
throughout time including some of you who are parents) from when I was
younger and did something stupid cause some of my friends did and
convinced me to do it too, "Just cause your friends jumps off a cliff,
there is no reason for you to do it too".  The more serious response is:
Have you ever bothered to look at what a lawyer's seven year education or
a doctor's eight year education is comprised of?  Both paths require you
to get an undergraduate degree that need not have ANYTHING to do really
with being a doctor or lawyer.  Pre-med and pre-law degree paths are
really just a major in anything that you would like while fulfilling some
basic general education (math, science such as chem, biology, etc) course
that are "pre-requiste" courses, but are NOT law or medical courses.
These are equivalent to the math and science and limited humanities
courses that engineers are required to take in about their first year or
two, only lawyers and doctors take amoung a bunch of other courses that
could be TOTALLY unrelated in any remote way to their chosen profession.

Thus, lawyers and doctors get a general undergraduate degree that need not
include ANY courses that actually cover the true "technical" aspect of
their profession.  I am not saying that undergraduate degree does not have
some worth...at a minimum, it certainly does allow for potential lawyers
and doctors to "mature" a little bit more before they are faced with the
actual "core" courses of their profession.  But, they don't get their
actual "lawyer" or "doctor" courses until they reach graduate school.

In the case of doctors, that is 4 years of "doctor" courses.  Although to
my understanding, it is really more like the equivalent of 2 to 3 years of
formal classroom work of "doctor" courses as I believe the last two years
of their education is primarily rotations working as medical students in a
hospital.  I believe that they might still have a few minor, minimal
actual class time during those last two years, but I believe that it is
mostly on-the-job training....much like what engineers are SUPPOSED to get
during their 4 years (2 in California) of experience prior to getting
their PE license, yet is often doing design of beam after beam after beam
or reviewing shop drawings rather than getting comprehensive experience on
multiple types of materials and projects as well as some exposure to some
non-engineering things like project management, scheduling, etc.

In the case of lawyers, it is the 3 year grad program.  But, I don't
believe that they are required to obtain any on-the-job training prior to
taking the bar (could be wrong in that) and can take the bar right out of
school if they want (many don't, I believe, cause they want/need to study
and the practical experience can help...the practice of law primarily
hinges on knowing/memorizing prior cases so time really helps).

Now take a look at an engineering degree.  In the program that I went
through, the first year to rought mid to end of second year was the time
where one took the "pre-requisite" coursework (i.e. math, chem, physics,
English, etc).  The intent is that you start to get you actual engineering
(granted "basic", general) courses in your second year (although I started
in my first year but also know some that start in their third year...they
did not start off pursing engineering) such as statics, solid mechanics,
dynamics, thermodynamics, etc.  You then spend most (if not all) of your
third year and last year taking engieering courses that get more and more
"specific" to an area.  The end result is that in an engineering undergrad
program you end up with about 2 to 3 years of actual engineering courses.

So, when you get down to it, all three professions end up with about the
same amount of "core technical" courses in their field.  The only function
differences are that doctor's and lawyer's do that coursework as graduate
students while engineers do it as undergrads AND doctor's and lawyer's
have to take a shit load of additional courses that in essence don't
really do much toward making them doctor's or lawyer's (but maybe better,
more "rounded" persons).

Thus, this arguement doesn't fly for me.  It basically is an arguement to
make some students pay a shit load more money to get a nice, more well
"rounded" education, but not really get them ANY more engineering
courses...assuming that you really want us to take a path like doctors or
lawyers.  In our case, adding another year of formal education (i.e. a
Master's degree) would realistically add additional engineering
coursework, but this would actually take us BEYOND what doctors and
lawyers must do, at least in terms of core professional related courses.
Besides, if you TRUELY want to compare us with doctors and lawyers, then
you should be including the experience (i.e. 4 years except for California
where it is 2) we are required to get prior to getting a license.  That
experience technically is considered education in the way most states
word/write their PE laws...most states state the requirement in the form
of one must obtain 8 years of experience/training of which at least 4
years of which must be a 4 year ABET accreditted undergraduate degree or
equivalent.  The point is that the state PE boards/laws consider the 4
year undergraduate education to be part of an 8 year "training"
requirement, with the other 4 years generally supposed to be
on-job-training (much like an appreticeship).

As to the arguement that schools are cutting back on the required number
of credit hours to graduate, this is an arguement that I find at least a
little bit of potential credence.  While I have not really seen any
evidence personally as the school that I went to (Michigan) still requires
the 128 credits to graduate as when I was there and was required for
sometime prior to me getting my education there (which was in the late
80s/late 90s), it would not suprise me that it is happening.  But, even if
this IS happening, then the solution in my opinion is NOT to require
students to get graduate education, but rather force those schools that
are reducing undergraduate education requirements to get their act
together and "fix" the undergraduate system.  In otherwords, this reason
basically says to me that we are willing to let schools provide students
with less for their money in undergraduate education PLUS make them pay
for some grad school.  In the end, this reason is used to justify a
solution that does not really fix the real problem, but rather just
addresses a system of the problem.  I look at it as the "powers" that be
within our profession either don't want to deal with the actual problem or
a frustrated with their inability to deal with that problem and as such
are searching for a quicker, easier way to "solve" the problem even if it
means that future engineering students get screwed by more for education
that they should have gotten in their undergraduate program.

Regards,

Scott
Adrian, MI


On Thu, 1 Jun 2006, Mark E. Deardorff wrote:

> Lawyers have what amounts to a seven year education. Doctors, an eight year
> education plus internship and residency. Engineers, only a paltry four. I
> believe that engineering degrees should be at least a five year program.
> Some schools actually are a five year program, or were. I think Cal Poly San
> Luis Obispo had a five year program for architectural engineering, or was it
> architecture? I don't remember.
>
> A four year degree only gives a very basic set of tools. If I hadn't
> petitioned to take a number of graduate courses I wouldn't have learned
> about concrete columns, masonry, wood, post-tensioned design or steel moment
> resisting frames among other things.
>
> A five year program should be the minimum.
>
> Mark E. Deardorff, Structural Engineer
> Burkett & Wong
> San Diego, CA
>
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Scott Maxwell [mailto:smaxwell(--nospam--at)engin.umich.edu]
> > Sent: Thursday, June 01, 2006 1:51 PM
> > To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
> > Subject: Re: Is ASCE Competing Against Us?
> >
> > Bill:
> >
> > Call me dumb, but I did not quite get whether that meant you wanted to
> > hear reasons why it considered necessary and why I don't really "buy"
> > those reasons.
> >
> > FWIW, do let me point out that I do STRONGLY believe that a Master's
> > degree is a worthwhile and very useful thing and that many engineers can
> > (and ultimately do) gain significant benefit from attaining a Master's
> > degree.  I just don't think that it should be required in order to obtain
> > a license.  As a case, in point, I do have my Master's degree and got it
> > right after my Bachelor's degree (and actually have worked toward a PhD),
> > so I do feel that (advanced) education is important and very useful.  But,
> > it was MY choice to get my advanced degrees.  And it was a good
> > choice...for me.
> >
> > Regards,
> >
> > Scott
> > Adrian, MI
> >
> >
> > On Thu, 1 Jun 2006 bcainse(--nospam--at)aol.com wrote:
> >
> > > Scott-
> > > We'll take it in installements since you've now "rung the bell."  :<)
> > > Regards,
> > > Bill Cain, S.E.
> > > Berkeley CA
> > >
> > > Scott Maxwell wrote:
> > > -----Original Message-----
> > >
> > > <snip> ....
> > >  I would address the various "excuses" for
> > > why this is necessary, but don't want to waste people's time unless
> > there
> > > is a desire for the debate here.
> > >
> > > Regards,
> > >
> > > Scott
> > > Adrian, MI
> > >
> > >
> > > On Thu, 1 Jun 2006, Caldwell, Stan wrote:
> > >
> > > > Scott & Bill:
> > > >
> > > > As a current member of the ASCE Board of Direction, I can personally
> > attest
> > > that the second rule of ASCE conduct is "Thou shall not compete with the
> > ASCE
> > > members and their employers."  [The first rule, of course, is "Thou
> > shall not
> > > violate the ASCE Code of Ethics."]  This policy, more than any other, is
> > why the
> > > ASCE Board voted to dissolve the Civil Engineering Research Foundation
> > (CERF)
> > > last January.  In fact, I was one of the three directors assigned to
> > write the
> > > report that led to that decision.
> > > >
> > > > From time to time, various public agencies ask ASCE to lead
> > independent, third
> > > party reviews of substantial civil engineering issues.  The first such
> > review
> > > might have been in 1872, involving the management of the design and
> > construction
> > > of the Brooklyn Bridge.  Some recent examples include the bombing of the
> > Murrah
> > > Federal Building, the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers, the
> > terrorist
> > > attack on the Pentagon, and the failure of the levees in New Orleans.
> > The
> > > Dulles Metrorail Tunnel is merely the most recent such request.
> > > >
> > > > ASCE responds to these requests by putting together volunteer panels
> > of
> > > nationally and internationally recognized experts, providing staff
> > resources to
> > > support their activities, and facilitating their meetings,
> > presentations, and
> > > publications.  The experts are individuals, not companies.  They work as
> > > volunteers with expenses partially reimbursed.  The nominal costs of the
> > > independent reviews varies based on the circumstances involved and the
> > > requesting agencies are billed for these costs.
> > > >
> > > > Volunteer service as a professional engineer is a rewarding endeavor
> > in many
> > > ways, but not financially.  It can also be addictive.  Since last
> > October, I
> > > have spent an average of 3 days/week and 3 trips/month on ASCE business.
> > In
> > > return, I receive no compensation beyond partial reimbursement for
> > travel
> > > expenses.  I am grateful for having a family and an employer that will
> > tolerate
> > > this for the next three years.  It also explains why the SEAINT Listserv
> > is no
> > > longer distracted with my off-topic and politically incorrect posts.
> > > >
> > > > It is easy for a design engineer to sit at his/her computer and
> > criticize the
> > > nonprofit organizations that serve the needs of engineers.  It is quite
> > another
> > > thing to get actively involved with one or more of these organizations.
> > Such
> > > involvement can greatly alter an engineer's perspective.
> > > >
> > > > Now I must sign off.  Seven emails have arrived from ASCE while I was
> > typing
> > > this message.
> > > >
> > > > Best regards,
> > > >
> > > > Stan R. Caldwell, P.E., F.ASCE, F.AEI
> > > > ASCE Technical Region Director
> > > > President, Building Security Council
> > > > Vice President, Halff Associates
> > > > Dallas, Texas
> > > >
> > > >
> > ¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤
> > ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤
> > > >
> > > > -----Original Message-----
> > > > From: Scott Maxwell [mailto:smaxwell(--nospam--at)engin.umich.edu]
> > > > Sent: Thursday, June 01, 2006 12:30 PM
> > > > To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
> > > > Subject: RE: Is ASCE Competing Against Us?
> > > >
> > > > Bill:
> > > >
> > > > You hit on something that was "buzzing" in the back of my head during
> > this
> > > thread...there is nothing in that press statement that the ASCE-led
> > panel that
> > > would say one way or another if there is compensation involved.  The
> > majority of
> > > folks that responded assumed that this was something that ASCE was
> > contracted to
> > > do.  I, however, assumed when I first saw this "news" in my ASCE email
> > > newsletter assumed that it was going to be an ASCE-led volunteer panel,
> > much
> > > like every single ASCE committee is comprised of volunteers that don't
> > get paid
> > > for their work.  When this thread popped up, I must admit that I went
> > back and
> > > re-read the news release and I cannot see anything that says one way or
> > the
> > > other.  Thus, I don't know if it is a paid effort or not.  The only
> > thing that I
> > > can say is that we may all be potentially guilty of making an assumption
> > based
> > > upon our preconceived notions of ASCE.  I made a "positive" assumption
> > that it
> > > was NOT a paid effort, but rather ASCE "volunteering" to help cause I
> > generally
> > > thing positive things of ASCE (except when you start to talk about their
> > whole
> > > Master's degree as the first professional degree push).
> > > > It appears that you made a "negative" assumption that it was a paid
> > effort due
> > > to what appears to be your somewhat negative (from my perspective at
> > > > least) view of ASCE.
> > > >
> > > > Regards,
> > > >
> > > > Scott
> > > > Adrian, MI
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > On Thu, 1 Jun 2006, Polhemus, Bill wrote:
> > > >
> > > > >
> > > > > I say this with all due respect to folks like Stan Caldwell, who I
> > > > > know act out of a certain sense of altruism. And I don't mean to say
> > > > > that business interests are anathema. And further, if I'm
> > > > > misunderstanding this--if the individuals or ASCE itself isn't
> > getting
> > > > > any significant compensation for this and they're doing it out of
> > > > > public spiritedness--I profoundly apologize.
> > > > >
> > > >
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