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Challenges and Opportunities for Recruiting Students to Undergraduate Civil Engineering Programs

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Conference

2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016

ISBN

978-0-692-68565-5

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Fostering Transformational Change in Civil Engineering

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count

20

DOI

10.18260/p.26468

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/26468

Download Count

641

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Paper Authors

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Cary Troy Purdue University - West Lafayette

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Cary Troy is an associate professor in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering at Purdue University. His research focuses on environmental fluid mechanics, physical oceanography, and Lake Michigan hydrodynamics, as well as innovative and effective pedagogical techniques in large engineering courses. He teaches courses in elementary fluid mechanics, environmental fluid mechanics, coastal engineering, physical limnology, and transport processes in surface waters.

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Jenna Bruntz

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Rao S. Govindaraju Purdue University - West Lafayette

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Rao S. Govindaraju is the Bowen Engineering Head and the Christopher B. and Susan S. Burke Professor in the School of Civil Engineering at Purdue University. He earned his PhD in civil engineering from the University of California, Davis, in 1989. His primary areas of research include surface and subsurface hydrology, contaminant transport, watershed hydrology, and climatic influences. He is interested in developing algorithms for analyzing and learning from hydrologic data. He specializes in problems dealing with uncertainty and spatial variability. His scholarly accomplishments include over a 125 peer-reviewed journal articles, four books, and twenty book chapters. His research work has been funded by various agencies such as NSF, EPA, DOD, and DOE. He has chaired several national level committees, and has served on the editorial boards of two journals. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Hydrologic Engineering of American Society of Civil Engineers.

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Ghadir Haikal Purdue University

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Ghadir Haikal is an Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at Purdue
University, West Lafayette, Indiana. She holds a Bachelor¹s degree in Civil
Engineering from Tishreen University, Lattakia, Syria and M.S. and Ph.D
degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, also in Civil
Engineering. Dr. Haikal's research focuses on developing advanced
computational models for simulating the response of complex structures and
materials to extreme loading events. She is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Society of Engineering Science and the
United States Association for Computational Mechanics.

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Joseph David Horn Purdue Civil Engineering

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Michael M. Kelly Purdue University

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Michael Kelly is a May 2016 graduate of the Lyles School of Civil Engineering at Purdue University. During his time as an undergraduate student he served in multiple leadership positions within the John M. Hayes Student Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, including as President for the 2015-2016 academic year. He also served as a Civil Engineering Student Ambassador, a member of the Civil Engineering Recruitment Committee, and as a teaching assistant for a course designed to introduce freshman to civil engineering. Michael will be continuing his education at Purdue University where he will be pursuing his Master's of Science in Civil Engineering with a focus in structural engineering.

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Mariah Grace Schroeder Purdue University Lyles School of Civil Engineering

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Mariah is a Master's student in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering at Purdue University. She is focusing her studies on hydraulic and hydrologic engineering. She has had multiple summer internship experiences in wastewater treatment and wastewater transportation systems. Mariah also has a passion for engineering education and has participated in various mentorship-based clubs and independent outreach events through engineering organizations on Purdue's campus. She also worked as a team member for Purdue's Women in Engineering Program's Access Engineering summer outreach program for K-12 students.

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Jon See East Tennessee State University

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Jon See is the Executive Director for Annual Giving at East Tennessee State University, arriving in November 2015. In this capacity, Jon is responsible for acquiring, upgrading, and renewing contributors to the University. Retired from the U.S. Air Force since 2003, Jon worked at Purdue University since 1997, working in Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), Information Technology, the College of Engineering, Corporate Relations, and in the School of Civil Engineering. Jon is a graduate of the Community College of the Air Force and Concordia University—Wisconsin. He has a 19-year-old son named Tyler and a dog named Odie.

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J. Case Tompkins Purdue University

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J. Case Tompkins is the Lecturer in Technical Communications for the Lyles School of Civil Engineering at Purdue University.

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Abstract

Society needs more civil engineers, with the projected near-term need for civil engineers greater than any other engineering discipline. Ailing national infrastructure and projected retirement rates have led to job projections suggesting that the near-term need for civil engineering graduates is almost double that of any other engineering discipline. This need, combined with other attractive attributes of civil engineering, should make civil engineering a top engineering major at many undergraduate universities. In spite of the career opportunities readily available to graduating civil engineers, and in spite of the general increasing trend in the number of total undergraduate engineering students, undergraduate civil engineering programs, taken as a whole, have struggled to maintain and grow their numbers. Individually, many undergraduate programs struggle to recruit students to civil engineering, and this poses a major problem not only to individual programs but to the profession itself.

We analyzed a set of civil engineering student surveys to determine the factors, attitudes, and experiences that typically lead students to select careers in civil engineering and found several common responses, many of which can be leveraged to promote the discipline. The data suggest that about one half of our students pre-select civil engineering prior to beginning as first-year engineering students, and that the top reasons for their selection of civil engineering include: a passion for building things; a desire to make a difference; flexible career options; and a love for math and science (which presumably is shared by young engineers of all disciplines).

We present data from another survey carried out with undergraduate students in other engineering majors, as to why students select other disciplines and how civil engineering is perceived. This survey highlights several perceptions about civil engineering among first year engineers. These include the misperception of civil engineering as a narrow field focused only around bridges, buildings, and roads, as well as the perception of civil engineers earning low salaries.

These student perceptions pose challenges to civil engineering recruiters, but also afford opportunities for clarification and improved recruitment, especially for programs that allow students to select their engineering discipline during their first year of college. We conclude this paper with a set of talking points we have deployed at our own university that directly address the above challenges and opportunities.

Troy, C., & Bruntz, J., & Govindaraju, R. S., & Haikal, G., & Horn, J. D., & Kelly, M. M., & Schroeder, M. G., & See, J., & Tompkins, J. C. (2016, June), Challenges and Opportunities for Recruiting Students to Undergraduate Civil Engineering Programs Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26468

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2016 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015