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A Structural Engineering Master’s Program -- the Trials and Tribulations

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Beyond BS: Issues Affecting Graduate Education

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.106.1 - 23.106.12



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Paper Authors


Cole C McDaniel California Polytechnic State University

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Dr. Cole McDaniel is an associate professor in the Architectural Engineering Department at the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

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Allen C Estes California Polytechnic State University

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Dr. Allen C. Estes is a professor in and head of the Architectural Engineering Department at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Until January 2007, Dr. Estes was the director of the Civil Engineering Program at the United States Military Academy (USMA). He is a registered professional engineer in Virginia. Dr. Estes received a B.S. degree from USMA in1978, M.S. degrees in Structural Engineering and in Construction Management from Stanford University in 1987 and a Ph.D. degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1997.

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A Structural Engineering Master’s Program -- the Trials and TribulationsThis paper is specifically intended for the advertised session in the CE Division on“current issues affecting graduate CE programs such as double dipping, accreditation ofmasters programs, combined MS/BS degree, research versus practice oriented mastersdegrees, etc.”The xx Engineering Department at xx University is a predominately undergraduateuniversity. The xx Department started a structural engineering master’s degree programsix years ago and has graduated five separate classes. Since its inception, this master’sprogram has dealt with every issue listed above and others.This paper discusses the issues and resolution associated with: • Starting with a thesis-only program and realizing that a non-thesis option was the only way to grow the program • Creating a thesis option where industry partners provide the topics and a member of the thesis committee. The industry firm provides a paid intership during the summer prior to the start of master’s program which allows to student to make initial progress on the thesis project • Starting the master’s program as part of an existing Master’s of Architecture with a structural engineering emphasis to avoid the administrative hoops associated with starting a new program from scratch. • Creating a blended program where four of the courses in the undergraduate curriculum count towards the master’s degree • Adjusting to the specialized needs of students who enter the program having completed their undergraduate degree at other institutions • Being required to run the revised master’s degree through continuing education for budgetary reasons and dealing with issues of increased costs for students, student services, and students who are simultaneously taking classes in both the state and self-support systems. • Creating an incentive for some students to continue to take a thesis option when the non-thesis option was available. • Adjusting the master’s program when the undergraduate program was mandated to reduce to 120 semester hours and the blended aspect of the program was lost. • Creating efficiencies by collaborating with masters programs offered by other departments • Being asked to develop on-line versions of courses that could be packages into certificates to customers outside the existing master’s program. • Deciding whether or not to attain ABET accreditation for the master’s program

McDaniel, C. C., & Estes, A. C. (2013, June), A Structural Engineering Master’s Program -- the Trials and Tribulations Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19120

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