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Assessment Of Realistic Design Constraints In Engineering Programs

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.115.1 - 3.115.8

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Paper Authors

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Enno 'Ed' Koehn

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Assessment of Realistic Design Constraints in Engineering Programs

Enno $Ed# Koehn Lamar University


The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) has adopted a revised set of criteria for accrediting engineering programs. According to the new regulations, departments will be required to demonstrate that various design constraints listed in the professional component section of the criteria are utilized by students in their design sequence.

This paper investigates the level, according to construction related students, at which the constraints have been considered in a specific curriculum. In particular, the findings suggest that both undergraduate and graduate students believe that 3 design constraints have been incorporated into the civil engineering program at a high level. These include: engineering codes and standards, manufacturability (constructability), and ethical considerations. In contrast, 3 areas have been rated at a lower level. They include: social ramifications, political factors, and legal issues.


Over the years there have been recommendations for employers and various technical/professional organizations to revise the engineering curriculum to ensure that students are prepared for the professional practice of engineering.3, 4, 10 Practicing engineers and educators have also indicated that they are not completely satisfied with the average engineering program.5, 6, 7

This paper reviews a number of recent recommendations involving engineering education and presents the results of an investigation of the perceptions of a group of undergraduate and graduate students. The data for the study was obtained from a survey instrument which was distributed to students enrolled in construction related courses taught in civil engineering degree programs. Respondents were requested to indicate whether, and at which level, various design constraints have been incorporated into the curriculum. The constraints chosen are those that have been adopted by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) as criteria that must be satisfied for a program to be accredited. The findings of the investigation could be utilized, for comparative purposes, by other institutions and departments that may wish to study their curriculum.

Engineering Curriculum

Recently, engineering educators have indicated that, overall, effective teaching is rated as their highest priority.1 Nevertheless, the question of breadth vs. depth in engineering education is

Koehn, E. E. (1998, June), Assessment Of Realistic Design Constraints In Engineering Programs Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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