June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.213.1 - 12.213.12
An Innovative Infrastructure Curriculum for 21st Century Civil Engineering
Abstract A new curriculum has been developed by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engi- neering at The University of Wisconsin—Platteville (UWP). The revised curriculum creates a focus on infrastructure topics and the built environment. Classes on infrastructure will be added to the curriculum and infrastructure topics will be added to required engineering courses. Students will develop a local infrastructure report card as a service learning activity to increase awareness of the infrastructure. The local infrastructure report card will also serve as an ABET assessment tool. Details on how an infrastructure theme will be infused through- out the curriculum are presented.
Introduction The importance of the infrastructure to the economic development of the country is well un- derstood by engineers and many political leaders in the U.S. As highlighted by the 2005 American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE) Infrastructure Report Card1, the United States’ infrastructure is in very poor condition, and was given an overall grade of D. Because of these infrastructure needs, civil engineers of the future will need to be skilled at maintaining and upgrading in-place infrastructure in addition to the current emphasis on creating new in- frastructure. Unfortunately, the influence of civil engineers in infrastructure management and planning has been waning in recent years.2
To better prepare our students to participate in the planning and management of public works, we (the faculty of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at UWP) are revamp- ing our curriculum with the goal of educating “citizen engineers.”3 Citizen engineers will be more in tune with the needs of their communities and of the nation, and will be able to effec- tively address the technical and non-technical issues related to the infrastructure. To meet this end, we are infusing an infrastructure theme throughout the curriculum. The revised curricu- lum will include at least one new course (i.e. “Introduction to Infrastructure I”), which will specifically address infrastructure needs and the non-technical issues (such as financing, po- litical process, etc.) that are often crucial to successful engineering projects. However, unlike many implementations of curriculum reform4, our proposed changes will go well beyond the creation of a class or classes. Infrastructure concepts will be interwoven throughout the re- mainder of the curriculum to provide students with a better understanding of the challenges to be faced in improving, securing, and maintaining the national infrastructure.
In addition to learning about infrastructure in classes, students will evaluate infrastructure components in local communities using direct observation, producing a “local” infrastructure report card. This service learning activity will provide students with a direct connection to a local community and its needs. Our ultimate goal is to produce citizen engineers that have a better understanding of infrastructure, better familiarity with new technologies5 that are in- creasingly used in infrastructure management, and a more holistic understanding of the built environment as compared to the engineers currently graduating from our program.
Roberts, M., & Curras, C., & Parker, P., & Penn, M., & Anderson, M. (2007, June), An Innovative Infrastructure Curriculum For 21 St Century Civil Engineering Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2087
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