Asee peer logo

Faculty Hiring Trends At Small To Medium Sized Research Intensive Cee Departments And Balancing The Needs Of Research And Practice

Download Paper |


2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Who Should Teach the BOK

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.732.1 - 12.732.8



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Ronald Harichandran Michigan State University

visit author page

Ron Harichandran is professor and chairperson of civil and environmental engineering at Michigan State University (MSU). He has been chairperson since August 1995 and is a Fellow of ASCE. His department leads the largest engineering-based study abroad program in the country. He serves on the Accreditation Committee of the ASCE Committee on Academic Prerequisites for Professional Practice and the ASCE Body of Knowledge II Committee. Dr. Harichandran helped establish the Michigan Transportation Research Board in 2005 and serves as its inaugural chairperson.

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

Faculty Hiring Trends at Small- to Medium-Sized Research Intensive CEE Departments and Balancing the Needs of Research and Practice Abstract

Civil and environmental engineering (CEE) departments are embracing the use and devel- opment of new technological breakthroughs that are constantly taking place to address social problems in an increasingly complex, globally connected, and congested world. The develop- ment of new solutions requires a strong focus on fundamental and applied research, often in emerging areas that are only tangentially related to traditional civil and environmental engineer- ing areas. To remain competitive, research-oriented departments are hiring faculty in these cut- ting-edge engineering science-oriented research areas who may not have strong training in tradi- tional CEE areas, and especially in design. In smaller departments, this type of hiring practice has the potential to cause the undergraduate curriculum to favor engineering science-oriented topics over engineering practice-oriented topics. This paper examines recent faculty hiring prac- tices in 14 small- to medium-sized research-oriented CEE departments in the U.S., and discusses potential impacts on the profession. The importance of maintaining flexibility in ABET CE pro- gram criteria, and in the second edition of the Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge document, is also stressed.

Faculty Hiring Practices

I investigated faculty hiring practices at 14 small- to medium-sized research-oriented CEE departments (typically having between 10 and 40 faculty members) by searching department Web pages and identifying assistant professors. I ignored faculty members hired recently as as- sociate or full professors. I then contacted current or former chairs at these departments and posed the following questions to them: 1. Does your department tend to hire faculty in engineering science areas? 2. Has the number of faculty able to teach design courses declined in recent years? If so, how does the department teach design courses to meet ABET needs? 3. Your recent hires (assistant professors) are listed below. For each person, please indicate: (a) The person’s potential to secure a P.E. license soon after tenure (b) The ability of the person to teach design courses in their discipline In general, department chairs indicated that there has been a change over time with respect to faculty hiring practices and that the number of faculty with the ability to teach traditional design in on the decline. Nevertheless, the department chairs tended to be optimistic with respect to the ability of their faculty to teach design courses and obtain the P.E. license. I paraphrased the re- sponse from them, reviewed degrees received (CE or non-CE BS and MS), research interests, courses taught, and design work experience to assess: (a) the ability of the assistant professors to teach traditional civil engineering design courses (e.g., design of structures, foundations, hydrau- lic and hydrological systems, pavements, transportation systems, and wastewater treatment sys- tems); and (b) their likelihood of obtaining P.E. licenses. It is of course possible that faculty members having a low likelihood of teaching design at present could learn to teach traditional design courses, and those having a low likelihood of obtaining the P.E. license could eventually

Harichandran, R. (2007, June), Faculty Hiring Trends At Small To Medium Sized Research Intensive Cee Departments And Balancing The Needs Of Research And Practice Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2291

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: © 2007 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