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Expectations for the Masters-Level Structural Engineering Graduate Preparedness using the Delphi Method

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Beyond BS: Issues Affecting Graduate Education

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.565.1 - 23.565.14



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Paper Authors

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Zsuzsa Balogh Metropolitan State University of Denver


Marvin E. Criswell P.E. Colorado State University

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Dr. Marvin Criswell is professor emeritus of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Col.

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Michael A De Miranda Colorado State University

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Expectations for the Masters-Level Structural Engineering Graduate Preparedness using the Delphi MethodStructural engineering educational programs in the U.S. are facing great challenges inharmonizing their goals and the needs of their graduates and the structural engineeringprofession in today’s constantly changing global environment. The ASCE Raise the Barinitiative within civil engineering and its call for education beyond the undergraduate level forfuture entry into civil engineering practice emphasizes the need for structural engineering at thegraduate level to be carefully examined. The educational content and requirements of especiallythe masters-level programs should be examined, along with the needs and expectations ofstructural engineering practice, with input from both academics and the profession. Themethodology chosen in the reported study, which was designed to obtain significant criticalinformation on the expected preparation of the young engineer in structural engineering practice,is the Delphi method.The basic Delphi method was modified and used to obtain input on the competency levelsexpected in numerous structural engineering topics by members of the structural engineeringprofessional field and a limited number of academics, professional society leaders, and policymakers.This paper discusses the methodology of determining possible gaps and links between what canbe provided in the master-level academic work and the needs of the structural engineeringprofession, along with the results of this study. Many forums have or are researching thequestions raised by professionals on how adequately engineering program graduates are preparedto enter the engineering profession. For structural engineering, this question can be asked for atleast three times in the student’s preparation: after their undergraduate work, immediately after agraduate level program, or after masters-level graduation and the first few years of experienceworking in the professional structural engineering field. The main objective of the studydescribed in this paper is to describe in some detail how well the masters-level structuralengineering education, supplemented with the knowledge increase expected from the initialprofessional experience, meets the needs of the structural engineering profession in the UnitedStates. Assuring this preparation is especially challenging in engineering specialties, where thetypical professional environment is significantly different from the academic environment. Forthe structural engineering, design is heavily controlled by building codes and specifications andless so by current research.The outcomes of this research project, included an assessment of the competency level (usingBloom’s Taxonomy) expected to be achieved by the conclusion of the masters-level program andafter the initially five years of professional practice following the graduate program in each ofthe 43 areas within the following five general categories: A-Basic Mechanics and EngineeringTools, B-General Structural Engineering Tools, C-Technology and Communication Tools, D-Structural Engineering Topics and Tools, E-Management and Professional Tools. The results ofthe research provides very useful information to both the academic and practicing structuralengineering communities by defining a framework of knowledge expected by the profession forthe young engineer.

Balogh, Z., & Criswell, M. E., & De Miranda, M. A. (2013, June), Expectations for the Masters-Level Structural Engineering Graduate Preparedness using the Delphi Method Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19579

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