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Perceptions of the Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge Outcomes by Senior Students: Effect of Activities, Internships, and Career Goals

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Accreditation and the BOK

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


Angela R. Bielefeldt University of Colorado, Boulder

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Angela Bielefeldt is a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering (CEAE). She serves as the ABET assessment coordinator for her department. Bielefeldt is also a licensed P.E. Professor Bielefeldt's research interests in engineering education include service-learning, sustainable engineering, social responsibility, ethics, and diversity.

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In the process of updating the Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge Second Edition (BOK2), the ASCE is gathering input from many stakeholders. This paper explores the opinions of students majoring in civil engineering who had completed three to four years of their Bachelor’s degree at a research-intensive, public institution and were enrolled in a course where they were learning about the BOK2. Students completed an individual homework assignment where they explored the BOK2; responses from this assignment in 2016 and 2017 were examined (n=117). When asked to identify the five outcomes that they believed would be the most important in their future civil engineering career, problem solving, teamwork, communication, and ethics were listed the most often. The outcomes most commonly identified as the least important were humanities, social science, and experiments. The frequency that some outcomes were identified as the most and least important differed based on the students’ sub-discipline of interest for their future career and whether they had engaged in an internship or participated in Engineers Without Borders (EWB). For example, 47% of EWB participants rated sustainability among the top five most important outcomes, compared to only 19% of non-EWB participants. A higher percentage of those with internship experiences rated teamwork in the top five important outcomes, and a lower percentage rated attitudes among the five least important outcomes. Those with future career interests in construction engineering rated project management in the top five important outcomes with higher frequency; students with structures career interests believed design to be more important; fewer students with water and/or environmental career aspirations rated globalization among the least important outcomes. Content analysis of an open-ended discussion of the BOK2 found that the majority of students (93%) had overall positive statements. Some promoted the inclusion of creativity and innovation as a new outcome. Many commented that they were surprised that attitudes were included, but also deemed attitudes very important. A number liked the emphasis on sustainability, and encouraged even greater focus on this outcome. A few students would have liked more discussion on humanitarian needs and themes. The paper concludes with recommendations for how to use the BOK in teaching.

Bielefeldt, A. R. (2018, June), Perceptions of the Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge Outcomes by Senior Students: Effect of Activities, Internships, and Career Goals Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30871

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