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Developing A Body Of Knowledge For Civil Engineering Specialization: Geotechnical Engineering

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Implementation of the Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge and Recent ABET Experiences

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.439.1 - 14.439.15



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Paper Authors

author page

Kevin Sutterer Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Developing a Body of Knowledge for Civil Engineering Specialization: Geotechnical Engineering Abstract

The body of knowledge (BOK) for civil engineers recommended by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) continues to evolve through the efforts of ASCE’s Technical Council on Academic Prerequisites for Professional Practice (TCAP3). The ASCE BOK includes a Technical Specialization outcome, designated to be primarily met through master’s level graduate study or equivalent continuing education. ASCE has not defined bodies of knowledge for post-baccalaureate formal learning within the Technical Specialization outcome. However, it could be helpful to individuals and department programs to have insights or a systematic process for developing a suitable institute- specific plan of study for Technical Specialization. The findings of such a study would also be useful to graduate students making decisions about graduate courses.

The paper presents a systematic process that could be used to assess the appropriate body of knowledge for students seeking technical specialization in geotechnical engineering, but this process could apply to any engineering field. It involves development of a list of topics to be considered for a body of knowledge through a focus group comprised of practicing engineers and engineering faculty; creation, use, and interpretation of an assessment tool distributed to both practicing engineers and engineering faculty to acquire insights for setting priorities for learning; and development of a body of knowledge that accounts for the insights of practicing engineers, needs of graduate programs, and pedagogical and personnel limitations of a specific program.

This process is illustrated in the paper for a technical specialization in geotechnical engineering. The paper supports permitting individual departments to define the appropriate body of knowledge for Technical Specialization, but encourages programs to engage in a systematic process to develop appropriate bodies of knowledge for their civil engineering subdisciplines as a service to their students.


Much has been written lately about the future of engineering and engineering education. The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has a project under way to redefine engineering and engineering education, with several publications from that effort already in print1,2. The University of Michigan’s Millennium Project is studying new paradigms for learning institutions, and has issued an insightful report on engineering education3. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has been especially proactive about the future of civil engineering education. It has now been ten years since ASCE adopted Policy Statement 465 (PS 465), recommending the Master’s or equivalent as the first professional degree for civil engineers4. ASCE is making progress towards implementing that vision of PS 465. Recent publications include their reports on development of civil engineering curricula5 and the second edition of the proposed civil engineering body of knowledge6. ASCE’s efforts will likely impact all of engineering education. For

Sutterer, K. (2009, June), Developing A Body Of Knowledge For Civil Engineering Specialization: Geotechnical Engineering Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5561

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