Asee peer logo

Impacts Of Student Course Selection On Subsequent Career Trajectories

Download Paper |


2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Educational Issues in Civil Engineering

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.687.1 - 14.687.9



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Wilfrid Nixon University of Iowa


James Stoner University of Iowa

visit author page

Jim is an associate professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Iowa. His area of expertise is transportation engineering, with a strong emphasis on transportation simulation.

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

Impacts of Student Course Selection on Subsequent Career Trajectories


In 2002, the College of Engineering at the University of Iowa adopted a curriculum that allowed students significantly more options in selecting electives than previously. Specifically, students could apply up to 21 semester hours (out of 128 required to graduate) to an Elective Focus Area (EFA). While it was expected that most students would select an EFA within their major discipline, the curriculum specifically allowed students to use this EFA in non-technical ways. For example, it could be used to allow a student to take any minor offered at the University of Iowa. This paper explores how students in the Civil Engineering program at the University of Iowa have used the EFA option since 2002, and what impact this has had on their subsequent career trajectories.


The Civil Engineering Curriculum and the College of Engineering Core Curriculum at the University of Iowa were revised in 2002. The ‘New Curriculum’ was adopted by the College of Engineering faculty in 2001, and the first class graduated in spring 2006. The curriculum was revised upon the recommendation of a Curriculum Advancement Task Force (CATF) charged by the Engineering Faculty Council (EFC) and the Dean of the College of Engineering to recommend changes to the undergraduate and graduate curricula and programs to give engineering students an education that reaches beyond technology. The CATF documented the following vision for the undergraduate programs:

The College of Engineering undergraduate programs are designed to draw on the broad resources of The University to attract the best and brightest students and prepare them to be engineers who will succeed in a workplace filled with diverse people, attitudes and ideas; compete in the global marketplace; work effectively in multidisciplinary teams; and confidently understand, use and develop modern technology. The programs distinguish the College from others in the region and build on the recognized strengths of The University to offer unique opportunities for students wishing to pursue a wide range of career options; as engineers whose education goes beyond technology.

The CATF document put forward two defining characteristics of all engineering programs at The University: flexibility in support of individual student aspirations and a commitment to student success. In voting to approve the CATF document, the faculty of the College of Engineering adopted the following specific characteristics for all engineering programs (Biomedical, Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Industrial, and Mechanical Engineering):

• Each program is to require 128 semester hours.

Nixon, W., & Stoner, J. (2009, June), Impacts Of Student Course Selection On Subsequent Career Trajectories Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5654

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: © 2009 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