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The Civil Engineering Technologist and the Civil Engineer – According to the Authorities, What’s the Difference?

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

The Civil Engineering Technologist and the Civil Engineer – What’s the Difference?

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1172.1 - 23.1172.36



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Paper Authors


Thomas A. Lenox, Dist.M.ASCE American Society of Civil Engineers

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Dr. Thomas Lenox is the executive vice president of Professional and Educational Strategic Initiatives for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Dr. Lenox has over 43 years of experience as a leader, team builder, and manager in diverse professional and academic environments. During his 28-year military career, he spent fifteen years on the engineering faculty of the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point – including five years as the director of the Civil Engineering Division.
As director of the Civil Engineering Division at USMA, Dr. Lenox supervised nineteen faculty in the ABET-accredited civil engineering program. He was the USMA nominee for the 1997 Carnegie Foundation Professor of the Year Award. He served as chair of both the Civil Engineering Division and the Middle-Atlantic Section of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), and as a member of ASCE’s Educational Activities Committee. Dr. Lenox also served as co-principal instructor of the NSF-supported Teaching Teachers to Teach Engineering (T4E) workshops at West Point in 1996, 1997, and 1998.
Upon his retirement from the U.S. Army on October 1, 1998, Dr. Lenox joined the staff of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). In his position as educational staff leader of ASCE, he led several new educational initiatives – collectively labeled as Project ExCEEd (Excellence in Civil Engineering Education). A notable example is the ExCEEd Teaching Workshop, a nationally recognized workshop that develops inexperienced faculty into effective teachers and role models for the civil engineering profession. He continues to be very active in ASEE and other associations which foster teaching excellence – and has written numerous papers, made presentations, and run workshops dedicated to engineering educational reform. Currently, as ASCE’s Executive Vice President (Professional & Educational Strategic Initiatives), Dr. Lenox is leading several educational and professional career-development projects for the civil engineering profession – with the overall objective of properly preparing individuals for their futures as civil engineers. A prime example is his long-term engagement in ASCE’s initiative to “raise the bar” for entry into professional practice.
Dr. Lenox received a Bachelor's of Science degree from the United States Military Academy, Master's of Science degree from Cornell University, Master's of Business Administration degree from Long Island University, and a Ph.D. degree from Lehigh University. He is also a graduate of several Army service and specialty schools to include the Army War College. Recent awards include the ASCE’s ExCEEd Leadership Award, ASEE’s George K. Wadlin Award, ASCE’s William H. Wisely American Civil Engineer Award, and the CE News’ “2010 Power List – 15 People Advancing the Civil Engineering Profession.” Dr. Lenox was selected as a Distinguished Member of ASCE in 2013.
He is married to Jane O’Connor Lenox. They have three adult children and three grandchildren.

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James J O'Brien Jr. American Society of Civil Engineers

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The Civil Engineering Technologist and the Civil Engineer – According to the Authorities, What’s the Difference?While participating in a blue-ribbon panel at the 2008 ASCE Annual Civil EngineeringConference in Pittsburgh, Chuck Pennoni (a past president of both ASCE and ABET, and twicethe interim president of Drexel University) stated “A problem that exists in civil engineering isthat we do not have a clear definition between the capabilities and responsibilities of theTechnician, the Technologist and the Engineer.”The recent work of three ASCE task committees (the Paraprofessional Exploratory TaskCommittee, the Paraprofessional Task Committee, and the Technologist Credentialing TaskCommittee) has brought attention to the “problem” articulated by Chuck Pennoni. In particularthese committees have wrestled with the differences between the educational requirements andcareer expectations of the graduate of a four year ABET-accredited (a) civil engineeringtechnology program and (b) four-year EAC/ABET civil engineering program.This is first of several coordinated papers that will be written and presented to the CivilEngineering Division of ASEE. Collectively these scholarly papers will attempt to answer thequestion: What are and what should be the differences between the capabilities and responsibilities of the civil engineering technologist (a graduate of a four-year ABET- accredited program in civil engineering technology [CET]) and the civil engineer (a graduate of an ABET-accredited program in civil engineering [CE]).This particular paper will provide the background to this discussion. Specifically, the paper willanalyze the theoretical differences between the academic preparation of the CET and CE byexamining key policy, criteria, and marketing documents of ABET, Inc., the American Societyof Civil Engineers, the International Engineering Alliance, and selected academic institutionssupporting CET and/or CE programs. By examining and analyzing the existing documents ofthese engineering organizations, the paper will attempt to answer the question –“Today, what is acknowledged Body of Knowledge (BOK) for entry into a career as a civilengineering technologist – and how does this relate to the BOK for the civil engineer?”COORDINATING NOTE:This abstract is submitted at the specific invitation and request of Tom Lenox and Jim O’Brien,the coordinators of the ASCE Liaison Committee’s program for the CE Division of ASEE in2013. It should be considered for inclusion in the session on Civil Engineering Technologiststhat Tom Lenox and Jim O’Brien are organizing and moderating. Page 1 of 1 Abstract01--CE Technologists--ASEE 2013--CE Division--ASCE Liaison Cmte--V092112.docx

Lenox,, T. A., & O'Brien, J. J. (2013, June), The Civil Engineering Technologist and the Civil Engineer – According to the Authorities, What’s the Difference? Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22557

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