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Student Perceptions Of The Civil Engineering Body Of Knowledge

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Implementing the CE BOK into Courses and Curricula

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1119.1 - 15.1119.13



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Paper Authors

author page

Angela Bielefeldt University of Colorado, Boulder

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Student Perceptions of the Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge Abstract

It is of interest to determine how civil engineering students perceive the educational outcome requirements articulated in the American Society of Civil Engineers Body of Knowledge (BOK2). Therefore, freshmen and senior civil engineering (CVEN) students at the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) were introduced to the BOK2 and asked for feedback. Students in a first year Introduction to Civil Engineering course were provided with the BOK in 2008 and 2009. They were encouraged to use the information on the first homework assignment to define civil engineering and the skills required to be a civil engineer. The students articulated which five skills and abilities they thought were the most important to be a civil engineer and three skill areas that were unique to civil engineering compared to other engineering disciplines. At the end of the semester the students were asked to comment on their personal strengths and weaknesses in regards to the outcome skills in ABET and/or the BOK2. In addition, ~65 senior civil engineering students ranked the importance, curriculum weaknesses, and personal weaknesses in the BOK2 outcomes. The freshman and senior responses in regards to the most important skills were significantly different, with the exception of the relative importance of design and math. In addition, five senior civil engineering students mapped their personal course experiences to the BOK2. One student noted that the capstone design course alone covered 21 of the 24 BOK2 outcomes, indicating that a single course can achieve a wide range of objectives and one need not view the BOK2 outcomes as “course-by-course” requirements. However, the outcomes in the senior design course were somewhat dependent on the specific project and the individual students’ role on the project. For example, a service learning project for a developing community achieved to some extent the globalization outcome that other students noted was lacking. This approach of using “rich” pedagogy and learning experiences will be necessary to achieve the requirements in the BOK2. Student feedback on the BOK2 may indicate where curriculum changes in a specific program are needed, and/or may be useful indicators of what aspects of the profession may be appealing to students who are underrepresented in civil engineering (females and minorities).


The American Society of Civil Engineers developed a Body of Knowledge (BOK2) which defines the breadth and depth of knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to become a licensed, practicing professional civil engineer in the 21st century.1 The BOK2 is rooted in a vision for preparing future engineers to benefit society via their practice of civil engineering in 2025 and beyond. 2 It is important that students who aspire to become civil engineers to understand the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that they will be expected to have when they enter the workforce. If students gain an early understanding of these issues they may either be more or less motivated to pursue a degree in civil engineering. For example, many students today in “Gen Net” are motivated by social good and wanting to make the world better; however, they often do not perceive that engineering is a way to achieve this goal.10 A career that benefits society has been found to be even more motivational to female and minority students.14 Parikh9 determined that there are somewhat different motivators for students in different engineering majors; civil engineering students were not included in the previous study.

Bielefeldt, A. (2010, June), Student Perceptions Of The Civil Engineering Body Of Knowledge Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15859

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