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Models For Direct Industry Support Of Us Civil Engineering Programs

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Accreditation and Assessment Concerns in Civil Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.901.1 - 13.901.17



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Paper Authors


Michael Casey George Mason University

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Michael J. Casey is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Infrastructure Engineering at George Mason University in the area of Construction and Project Management. Dr. Casey's research interests are in sensor networks for infrastructure security and management and civil applications of geospatial technology. He holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Maryland and a B.S. degree from Rutgers University, all in Civil and Environmental Engineering. He is a registered professional engineer.

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Ellen O'Donnell George Mason University

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Undergraduate Student, Department of Civil, Environmental, and Infrastructure Engineering

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

Models for Direct Industry Support of US Civil Engineering Programs


Of the approximately 250 accredited civil engineering programs in the US, the proportion that have direct and formal advisement from local industry is unknown. Where present, external, corporate-style advisory boards made up of practicing engineers and executives from local engineering and construction firms provide formal support in the form of curricular development advice, scholarships and operational funding, as well as co-op and internship programs. The presence and involvement of advisory bodies focused on the departmental rather than the college or university level is perceived as a distinct program advantage and has been recognized by ABET program evaluators. Still, the relative benefits of direct industry support and advisement have not previously been measured.

This paper will describe the various forms of informal and formal CE program support and present a survey methodology for evaluating whether these arrangements have a quantifiable effect on program success. A database of advisory boards from surveyed programs is presented and analyzed. The objectives of this work are to correlate the relative performance of CE programs' enrollment, research expenditures, and other factors with direct advisement and support by external boards; and to enumerate the co-incentives that advisory boards and CE- programs share. A case study is presented based on the Civil Engineering Institute (CEI), a nonprofit Virginia corporation and formal advisory board established in 1989 whose purpose is to assist with the Civil and Infrastructure Engineering program of GMU. The paper will finally present guidance and suggestions for implementing formal program support.


There are many benefits for University engineering programs to interface directly with industry through the use of industry advisory boards (IABs). IABs are typically formed to provide formal or ad-hoc support for education programs, capital improvements, scholarships, sponsorship of events and activities, internships and co-op programs, as well as mentoring and placement of graduates. They serve to advise with curriculum development, assess achievement of program outcomes, and aid with strategic planning. They include members from large engineering organizations, other academic institutions, local companies, alumni, prominent leaders, as well as entrepreneurs. The IAB interaction with engineering programs is usually a successful partnership based on these factors. The members and member organizations of IABs also benefit from this partnership. They typically are allowed to identify and recruit the top-graduating students, shape the future workforce to meet the needs of industry, and in some cases realize tax savings for their monetary and in-kind contributions to the University or engineering program.

IABs that operate at the Department level are less common than College-level boards, but provide many of the same functions. These boards tend to be proactive rather passive, and exhibit more specific interactions as enumerated recently1. For example, proactive IABs: (1) recruit members, especially Chairs, that will fit well with the goals and objectives of the

Casey, M., & O'Donnell, E. (2008, June), Models For Direct Industry Support Of Us Civil Engineering Programs Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3317

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