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The Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge: Supporting ASCE’s Grand Challenge

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

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

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


Decker B. Hains Western Michigan University

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Dr. Decker B. Hains is a Master Faculty Specialist in the Department of Civil and Construction Engineering at Western Michigan University. He is a retired US Army Officer serving 22 years on active duty with the US Army Corps of Engineers and taught at the United States Military Academy at West Point (USMA). He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from USMA in 1994, Master of Science degrees from the University of Alaska Anchorage in Arctic Engineering in 1998 and Missouri University Science & Technology in Civil Engineering in 1999, and a PhD in Civil Engineering from Lehigh University in 2004. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Michigan.

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Michael O'Connor P.E. New York University

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With five decades of construction and project management experience as a civil engineer, split equally between the public and private sectors involving projects with a total value of several hundred billion (US$s); my goal has always been to deliver solutions that are customer focused and performance that adds value.

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ASCE’s Grand Challenge to civil engineers is to “significantly enhance the performance and value of infrastructure project over their lifecycles.” ASCE wants to drive transformational change in infrastructure projects from planning to design to project delivery. How does ASCE move from the strategic vision to the detailed implementation? The paper’s objective is to answer that question in part by highlighting the role played by proposed changes to the civil engineering knowledge framework, specifically, ASCE’s Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge (BOK) as it undergoes revision for a Third Edition.

Knowledge may be the most strategically significant resource the profession can possess. The traditional view of civil engineering has always been about the importance of knowledge and its application to solve challenging problems. Civil engineering's role in the economy is to create, transfer and apply knowledge for the betterment of society. Civil engineering's ability to manage its knowledge is a result of its continuous effort to engage in learning. The authors argue that ASCE’s ability to deliver on the Grand Challenge is supported equally by its unique knowledge base and depends on the profession’s ability to create, innovate, and apply this knowledge throughout project and asset life-cycles. The roadmap to successfully answering the Grand Challenge includes (1) taking appropriate levels of risks, (2) being proactive, (3) being innovative, (4) developing, maintaining and using dynamic core competencies, (5) building sustained competitive advantages, and most important of all (6) creating value for our stakeholders.

The authors argue BOK3 should incorporate changes that are driven in part by a clear desire to fulfill the Grand Challenge, specifically in outcomes Design, Project Management, Risk and Uncertainty, and Sustainability, and Professional Responsibilities. The BOK3 should specifically include language on how it supports the Grand Challenge. The core concept in these BOK3 changes are to recognize a knowledge-based view of future civil engineering practice where civil engineers develop solutions to the ever increasingly complexity of delivering 21st century projects.

This paper discusses the specific linkage of the BOK3 to the Grand Challenge and the development of select outcomes supporting this linkage.

COORDINATING NOTE: This draft paper is submitted at the specific invitation and request of Tom Lenox, the coordinator of the ASCE Liaison Committee’s session(s) for the CE Division of ASEE in 2018. It should be considered for inclusion in the session “Educational & Professional Issues of Strategic Importance to the Civil Engineering Profession – and ASCE.” that Tom Lenox is organizing.

Hains, D. B., & O'Connor, M. (2018, June), The Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge: Supporting ASCE’s Grand Challenge Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31083

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