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Professional Development for Sophomore Engineering Students

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Civil Engineering Poster Session

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1074.1 - 25.1074.13



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Paper Authors


Edward F. Glynn P.E. Villanova University

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Ed Glynn is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Villanova University.

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Frank E. Falcone Villanova University

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Professional Development for Sophomore Engineering Students The Department of XXXXXX Engineering at XXXXXXXX has recently revised itscurriculum. In particular, the Department reduced the number of credits in the curriculum byconsolidating several related topics into a few key courses. One of these courses, CivilEngineering Fundamentals, is taught in the first semester of the sophomore year and serves as anintroduction to the engineering program. Fundamentals is designed to help sophomores developmany analytical, interpretive and field-based skills and procedures used in civil engineeringpractice. The course includes plane surveying, map interpretation, laboratory testing, numericalmethods, statistics and probability as well as other technical topics. The course also introducessophomores to the professional practice of civil engineering. The professional practicecomponent of Fundamentals has two major features, a mentoring program and exercises inproject management skills. This paper focuses on these two professional practice features.In the mentoring program each student is assigned a program alumnus/a who has volunteered toserve as a mentor. The student contacts the mentors three times during the semester via email.The first contact serves as an icebreaker. The mentors relate how their professional careers haveevolved since graduation. Did they follow a technical or management track or perhaps analternate career path? Did they attend graduate school? Are they professionally registered?The second contact concerns group projects, teamwork skills and conflict resolution. How do thementors address these issues? The third contact focuses on engineering ethics. Have the mentorsbeen faced with dilemmas involving engineering ethics and how did they resolve the problems?The questions and responses are scheduled to coincide with related activities in the course. Theyenhance class discussions on the effectiveness of teams and the professional and ethicalresponsibilities of practicing engineers.Fundamentals is structured around five modules, each of which has a major written or oralreport. The students work in groups of four or five, so each student serves as the projectmanager on at least one module. Prior to the first project there is a lecture on leadership skillsand responsibilities. At the beginning of that session each student writes down what he/she feelsare the attributes of a good leader. Later in the course, when a student has completed his ortenure as the project manager for one of the modules, copies of the attribute sheet are distributedto the other members of the team. The members rate the manager based on the attributes that themanager cited at the beginning of the semester. The members also rate the performance of theirpeers on the team. The manager, in turn, rates the performance of the members of the team. Allthis information is shared within the team after each module is completed and the reportsubmitted. The cumulative experience of the class is summarized and discussed during a lecturesession near the end of the course.Fundamentals has been taught twice in this format. Both the mentoring program and themanagement exercises have evolved as the instructors learned for their classroom experiences aswell as the comments of students and mentors.

Glynn, E. F., & Falcone, F. E. (2012, June), Professional Development for Sophomore Engineering Students Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21831

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