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Professional Licensure: The Core of the Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Educational & Professional Issues of Strategic Importance to the Civil Engineering Profession – and ASCE

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


Matthew K Swenty P.E. Virginia Military Institute

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Matthew (Matt) Swenty obtained his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Civil Engineering from Missouri S&T, worked as a bridge designer at the Missouri Department of Transportation, then returned to school to obtain his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at Virginia Tech. He worked at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McClean, Virginia on accelerated bridge and concrete bridge research before coming to the Virginia Military Institute (VMI). He teaches engineering mechanics and structural engineering courses at VMI and enjoys working with the students on undergraduate research projects and with the ASCE student chapter. He currently serves as a Member of ASCE's Committee on Licensure and Committee on Student Membership.

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Brian J. Swenty P.E. University of Evansville

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Brian J. Swenty, Ph.D., P.E. is Interim Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Evansville. He earned his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Missouri-Rolla and his M.S. degree in civil engineering from the University of Florida. He is a licensed professional engineer in California, Florida, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. He has held positions as an active duty Army officer, a senior civil engineer with a consulting firm, and the director of Missouri’s Dam and Reservoir Safety Program. Since 1993, he has been at the University of Evansville, serving as a professor, department chair, and interim dean. He continues to work as a consultant on projects involving the design and construction of new dams, modifications to existing dams, and the investigation of dam failures.

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For the past 100 years, the professional engineer’s (PE) license has been used by states to protect public safety and define the minimum knowledge needed to practice engineering, yet the debate continues about the importance of licensure, even within the engineering community. The debate has migrated into the political realm as local and state politicians question the importance and necessity of engineering licensure. One way to address this issue is to educate young engineers about licensure laws. The curriculums of fifty EAC-ABET accredited civil engineering programs in the United States were reviewed. Course requirements for a degree, capstone course descriptions, and professional topics courses that focus on licensure were examined. The survey revealed that fewer than half of the programs had a specific course focused on professional issues, most programs had a one-semester capstone course, and licensure was not a common topic in either the professional issues or capstone courses. As ASCE considers publishing a third edition of the Body of Knowledge (BOK), the profession should consider adding a new licensure outcome. A professional licensure outcome would influence both the cognitive and affective domains of an engineer’s pre-licensure education and clarify that civil engineers must be knowledgeable of professional licensure laws and regulations prior to becoming a licensed professional engineer.

Swenty, M. K., & Swenty, B. J. (2017, June), Professional Licensure: The Core of the Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28762

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