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Tenure and Education: Focusing on Research at the Expense of Practice

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Issues Affecting Engineering Program Development

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1421.1 - 22.1421.4



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Paper Authors


Brian L. Houston University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown

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Brian L. Houston is an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering Technology at the University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown. Prior to academia, he worked as a Senior Design Engineer in the petrochemical industry and is licensed in several states. He received a B.A. from Northwestern University in 1986, and a B.S./M.S. in Civil Engineering from Oklahoma State University in 1997/1999.

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Tenure and Education: Focusing on Research at the Expense of PracticeHiring practices for academia have traditionally focused on doctorate level candidates, butallowed for masters level work with equivalent practical experience, especially for teachinginstitutions. Current trends in hiring seem to be increasing the need for a doctorate in order toteach, primarily as teaching institutions begin to apply research-level criteria to their hiringpolicies.It appears that few institutions are willing to ask whether this trend is good, and use age0oldarguments to justify the escalation. The question should be posed, especially in a time whenengineering graduates in the United States are on the decline, including advanced degrees, andcompetition from foreign sources is increasing. Should we be limiting the pool of teachers, andfocusing on research minded individuals at a time when practicing engineers and constructioncompanies are asking for more practical, business minded employees.This paper poses the question that possibly the academic industry should refocus on balancedhiring practices, to ensure that students are getting both theoretical and practical knowledge, andthat they are ready to choose advanced instruction or to “hit the ground running” if they chooseto become practicing engineers.

Houston, B. L. (2011, June), Tenure and Education: Focusing on Research at the Expense of Practice Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18644

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