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Inspiring Students — The Key To Learning For The Future

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Preparing Civil Engineering Students for a Flat World

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.903.1 - 12.903.11



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Paper Authors

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Scott Hamilton U.S. Military Academy

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Fred Meyer U.S. Military Academy

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

Inspiring Students—The Key To Learning For The Future


This paper considers the implications of preparing engineering students to enter, live, and be successful in a “Flat World.” Clearly the exact needs of the future are not known for certain, but we do know that civil engineers of the future will need to be flexible, adaptive, life long learners. All academic institutions and all disciplines aim at preparing students for the future, at our institution the mission statement begins with “To educate, train, and inspire ….” While the entire mission is specifically geared toward the unique role of our institution and encompasses many areas beyond a traditional undergraduate education, it holds what the authors think is the key to preparing students for the uncertainty and challenges of the future and their current learning—to educate, train and inspire. The authors feel that educating and training alone are not enough; it is only with the addition of inspiration that we will create life long learners and ensure their education adequately prepares them for a dynamic and uncertain future.

In considering the changing and increasingly flat world, the role of the traditional educational process, teaching concepts, theories, methodologies, etc. cannot be minimized. In fact, the role of this type of education is increasingly important to their success. In the future, students will certainly need fundamental skills as assuredly as they need them today. However, much more will be required of them than what we teach them today; we must prepare them to not only learn pertinent skills for today but more importantly create in them a yearning for and an ability to become life long learners. The authors propose that the ability to become a life long learner is best achieved through inspiration, which should be a critical part of their undergraduate educational process. This paper considers various educational theories dealing with motivation for learning, recommendations from ABET and The Engineer of 2020 and highlights their calls for what we term “inspiring students.” The paper then analyzes various effects and parts of a civil engineering program to include guest speakers, case studies, field trips, summer enrichment opportunities, ASCE Student Chapter events, and service learning projects that can be used to do more than merely educate and train students, but also to inspire them.


The purpose of any educational endeavor is to impart learning; for engineering education, an additional practical element is included to provide students with the necessary skills and attributes to prepare them for their future applications of engineering. At this point, the exact needs of the future are not known; but we do know that engineers of the future will need to be flexible, adaptive, life long learners. Much has been written about the future our students will encounter, where the “world is flat,” more technologically based, and subject to rapid advances in all fields. All academic institutions and disciplines aim at preparing students for the future, our department’s current mission statement is: “To educate cadets in civil and mechanical engineering, such that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character who can understand, implement, and manage technology; and to inspire cadets to a career in the United States Army and a lifetime of personal growth and service.” This mission statement represents an intentional change that took place in August 2004 and was made very deliberately to emphasized the inspire

Hamilton, S., & Meyer, F. (2007, June), Inspiring Students — The Key To Learning For The Future Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2722

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