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Enhancing a Student’s Engineering Experience through Participation on Student Organizations

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Tricks of the Trade

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.567.1 - 25.567.13



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Paper Authors


Stephan A. Durham University of Georgia

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Stephan A. Durham is an Associate Professor in the faculty of engineering in the area of civil engineering at the University of Georgia. Durham teaches and performs research in the area of civil engineering materials, concrete materials and structures, and sustainability. Durham obtained his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Arkansas. He was an Associate Professor at the University of Colorado Denver prior to joining the University of Georgia in 2012.

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Wesley E. Marshall University of Colorado, Denver

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Wesley Marshall is an Assistant Professor of civil engineering at the University of Colorado Denver and Co-director of the Active Communities Transportation (ACT) research group. He focuses on transportation research dedicated to building a more sustainable infrastructure, particularly in terms of improving road safety, active transportation, and transit-oriented communities. Other recent research topics involve transportation planning, congestion pricing, human behaviors, parking, and street networks. A native of Watertown, Mass., Marshall is a recipient of the Dwight Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship and winner of the Charley V. Wootan Award for Outstanding TRB Paper.

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Enhancing a Student’s Engineering Experience through Participation on Student OrganizationsNumerous engineering related student organizations exist at colleges throughout theUnited States. Student organizations such as the American Society of Civil Engineers(ASCE), American Concrete Institute, Institute of Transportation Engineers, Society ofHispanic Professional Engineers, Society of Women Engineers and many others helpproduce better engineers who are more prepared for entry-level positions upongraduation. These student led, and faculty advised, groups provide opportunities forstudents to take on a leadership role in an organization, develop study groups with othermembers, connect with industry professionals, and participate on a design team. Most student organizations are typically led by the top students within anengineering program. Typically, there is a president, vice president, secretary, andtreasurer for each of these student groups. The responsibilities of each of these positionsprovide students with leadership skills that will later be used in engineering practice upongraduation. Other valuable aspects of these organizations are the projects that areperformed within each. For example, many organizations participate in regional andnational design competitions, such as the ASCE Concrete Canoe and Steel BridgeCompetition, while other groups assist their own schools or municipalities withengineering projects or data collection efforts. Another important source of hands-onexperience for these student groups is often found through volunteering on communityservice projects such as Habitat for Humanity and park clean-ups. Regardless of thewhether the projects are competitive or not, they all have an important role in enhancing astudent’s engineering education experience. While some help students combineclassroom learning (i.e. steel design) with real world applications (i.e. steel bridge design,fabrication, and construction), other projects help introduce the many socio-economicaspects of engineering through a participatory process. These organizations provide a great opportunity for students to form collaborativestudy groups. Because these organizations are comprised of students in all classes,freshmen through seniors and even graduate students, students are able to work withother students to study for exams and assist in the understanding of homework problemsand course content. Lastly, guest speakers are routinely incorporated into regularly scheduledorganizational meetings. These speakers are often industry professionals, local officials,and career development staff. Round table discussions between student group membersand a panel of young engineers are great ways for students to ask questions about careeropportunities, expectations, interview insights, and other queries students may have aboutschool, jobs, and career paths. This paper summarizes the co-benefits of student organizations in engineeringprograms. Student participation in these groups can greatly enhance the overalleducational experience and ultimately lead to students being better prepared for entry-level engineering jobs and beyond.

Durham, S. A., & Marshall, W. E. (2012, June), Enhancing a Student’s Engineering Experience through Participation on Student Organizations Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21324

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