June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.940.1 - 14.940.23
PARAPROFESSIONALS IN CIVIL ENGINEERING Introduction
For several years the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has been working to implement Policy Statement 465 – “Academic Prerequisites for Licensure and Professional Practice” – which “supports the attainment of a body of knowledge for entry into practice of civil engineering at the professional level.”1 The implementation resulted in several efforts including the development of a vision for civil engineering, the preparation of a body of knowledge, the modification of the civil engineering accreditation criteria, the initiation of curricula re-design projects, and others. It also highlighted the fact that engineering teams include more than just licensed professionals. They also include paraprofessionals: individuals who have significant engineering educational qualifications and who perform important technical and non-technical roles.
This raised a number of questions for the civil engineering profession. Are the roles that these individuals play in civil engineering as structured as they should be? Are these individuals appropriately credentialed? Should they be incorporated into the profession in a more organized, recognized and productive manner? To begin the process of addressing these questions, ASCE formed a task committee in the spring of 2008 titled the Paraprofessional Exploratory Task Committee (PETC). PETC was charged to explore paraprofessionals in civil engineering and set the stage for follow up activities that may be appropriate.
This paper will discuss the findings of the PETC and will address: ≠ the definitions of key terms associated with paraprofessionals in both a generic and engineering specific sense; ≠ examples of the roles, credentialing and regulation of paraprofessionals in other learned professions; ≠ examples of the current roles, credentialing and regulation of paraprofessionals in civil engineering and a potential model for distinguishing engineers, engineering technologists and engineering technicians (a model that may be suitable for adaptation by other engineering disciplines); and ≠ issues that should be further considered if paraprofessionals are to be better integrated into civil engineering teams and in the profession of civil engineering in general.
The PETC researched definitions for several terms to support their report2. Two types of definitions were initially developed relative to paraprofessionals including: ≠ terms which are used generically across multiple professions; and ≠ terms which describe individuals and their qualifications in civil engineering.
The PETC established several generic terms by consulting public resources such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, and publications relating to professions2. Some variability was found between the various resources; consequently, the task force compiled the information into single definitions. Two of the key generic definitions for “professional” and “paraprofessional” are as follows:
Nelson, J., & Hornbeck, D., & Lambrechts, J., & Manous, J., & Stevens, R., & Titus, L., & Russell, J. (2009, June), Paraprofessionals In Civil Engineering Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5047
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