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Progress Towards Educating the Engineer of 2020

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

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

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Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


Jakob C. Bruhl United States Military Academy Orcid 16x16

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Lieutenant Colonel Jakob Bruhl is an Associate Professor and Civil Engineering Program Director in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY. He received his B.S. from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, M.S. Degrees from the University of Missouri at Rolla and the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, and Ph.D. from Purdue University. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Missouri. His research interests include resilient infrastructure, protective structures, and engineering education.

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Brock E. Barry P.E. United States Military Academy

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Dr. Brock E. Barry, P.E. is the Director of the Civil Engineering Division and Professor of Engineering Education in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. Dr. Barry holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Rochester Institute of Technology, a Master of Science degree from University of Colorado at Boulder, and a PhD from Purdue University. Prior to pursuing a career in academics, Dr. Barry spent 10-years as a senior geotechnical engineer and project manager on projects throughout the United States. He is a licensed professional engineer in multiple states. Dr. Barry’s areas of research include assessment of professional ethics, teaching and learning in engineering education, nonverbal communication in the classroom, and learning through historical engineering accomplishments. He has authored and co-authored a significant number of journal articles and book chapters on these topics. Dr. Barry is the 2020 recipient of ASEE's National Outstanding Teaching Award.

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David Carlson P.E. United States Military Academy

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Major David Carlson is an instructor of Civil Engineering in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY. He was commissioned as an Engineer Officer from the U.S. Military Academy in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering. He earned a Master of Science Degree in Environmental Engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Missouri in 2014. He also earned a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana in 2019. CPT Carlson is a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of Missouri. He has served in a variety of Engineering and Combat units with varying leadership roles. His research interests include construction management and lean construction.

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The Engineer of 2020 was published in 2004 and predicted the roles that engineers would play in the year 2020. A companion text titled Educating the Engineer of 2020: Adapting Engineering Education to the New Century was published in 2005 and focused on changes necessary in engineering education to prepare engineers to practice in the year 2020. Both documents were heralded as inspirational, aspirational, and paradigm changing. But did change actually occur in the civil engineering curriculum?

The Engineer of 2020 report culminated in the presentation and description of a series of attributes. It is these attributes that the report suggested will “support the success and relevance of the engineering profession in 2020 and beyond.” The report acknowledges that those future attributes are similar to what made an engineer successful at the time the report was published, but technology was expected to make those attributes more complex.

This study investigates how civil engineering programs in the United States have adapted their curriculum to align with the attributes suggested in the report during the time period of 2005 - 2020. This study used a survey of civil engineering program leadership to collect their assessment of the importance of each of the attributes and to collect information related to program changes.

This study will be of interest to all civil engineering educators with an interest in ensuring that their graduates are prepared to meet The Engineer of 2020 attributes. This study will also be of interest to educators considering how the attributes described in 2004 remain relevant in 2020 and may spark conversation about how these attributes may need to be adjusted in the future. The study will be of particular interest to those responsible for recommending and implementing curricular changes in engineering programs.

Bruhl, J. C., & Barry, B. E., & Carlson, D. (2021, July), Progress Towards Educating the Engineer of 2020 Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2021 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015