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Board 89: Concerning Professional Licensure for Civil Engineering Faculty: A Matter of Best Practice

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Engineering Ethics Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

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Paper Authors


Michelle Marincel Payne Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Michelle Marincel Payne is an assistant professor in the Civil Engineering Department at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. She completed her Ph.D. in environmental engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, her M.S. in environmental engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology, and her B.S. in nuclear engineering at the University of Missouri-Rolla. Michellle is interested in developing opportunities for undergraduate students to learn through research, and in developing active and place-based teaching methods for environmental engineering courses.

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Professional licensure is expected in some engineering fields (civil engineering), but is superfluous in some other engineering fields. Professors may describe the importance of taking the Fundamentals of Engineering exam before students graduate as the first step towards the goal of licensure, but then describe how licensure is not useful to professors. As a result, engineering students may receive mixed messages about the importance of professional licensure.

In the Civil Engineering department at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, professional licensure and/or significant engineering design experience for faculty is traditionally highly valued. ABET requires that design courses be taught by faculty who are professional engineers, or who have qualification by degree and experience. This paper discusses the ethics of teaching technical content without licensure from the perspective of senior practicing civil engineers, and through personal reflection. This paper also shows initial survey data of the percent of faculty with professional licensure.

To discern the ethics of licensure among faculty and whether or not faculty licensure plays a role in students’ ability to be hired, the Board of Advisors for the Civil and Environmental Engineering department at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology was surveyed. Overall, practitioners agreed that it is ethical for faculty to teach without licensure. To determine the priority of licensure among faculty, civil engineering department heads were asked to report their percent of faculty with licensure. Initial survey data suggested that there is no consensus in terms of licensure expectations across universities. However, from the perspective of educators aiming to serve as role models for students, it is best practice, and not harmful, for faculty members to obtain licensure.

Marincel Payne, M. (2018, June), Board 89: Concerning Professional Licensure for Civil Engineering Faculty: A Matter of Best Practice Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30129

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