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The Building Bridges Seminar

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1104.1 - 8.1104.6



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Paper Authors

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Chris Gwaltney

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Mark Valenzuela

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

Session 2793

The Building Bridges Seminar

Mark Valenzuela, Ph. D., P. E. and Chris Gwaltney, P. E. Civil Engineering Program, University of Evansville, Evansville, IN, 47722


Through participation in local public policy issues in local committees, faculty at the University of Evansville became aware of the need for our civil engineering graduates to become savvy about issues facing engineering projects outside of the classroom. In particular, we wanted our students to realize that civil engineers have a special relationship with the public due to the nature of our designs and the impact that they have on a city, a county, a state, a region, and a nation. Because our work is often heavily influenced by agencies, boards, committees and sometimes by the general public, we created a special ASCE seminar series in Fall and Spring of Academic Year 2002-2003. In these seminars civil engineering students from all four years will talk to leaders in the community who affect the public policies that affect our designs. Students in the Spring semester will then team up in small groups to follow the proceedings of these various agencies and the projects that they oversee over an extended period of time and report back on their progress (or lack thereof) in subsequent ASCE meetings. This paper will outline the structure of the seminar series and describe the assessment of the seminar relative to our program objectives. The assessment will show the impact of the seminar series on the students’ attitude on public issues and the response of the community to this seminar that hopes to build bridges between the university and the community.


In the summer of 2002, the second author started to develop an idea for involving civil engineering students in the public policy process as it impacts civil engineering work. Specifically, the objectives were to force civil engineering students to get involved with the political system, attend public meetings, and see what nontechnical obstacles will stand in their way once in practice. Realizing that some problems that civil engineers address (e.g., congestion, pollution, new roadway developments, flooding issues, etc.) are chronic and that the solutions to these problems take time to be accepted by a community and to be implemented, the long term objectives were to have students follow public projects throughout their four years in the civil engineering program.

From this starting point, civil engineering faculty took steps to implement the Building Bridges Seminar at the University of Evansville during Academic Year 2002-2003, a special seminar series “Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education”

Gwaltney, C., & Valenzuela, M. (2003, June), The Building Bridges Seminar Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11892

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