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The Engineer of 2020 as of 2020

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Key Educational & Professional Issues of Strategic Importance to the Civil Engineering Profession - and ASCE - Part 1

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


Brock E. Barry P.E. U.S. Military Academy

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Dr. Brock E. Barry, P.E. is Professor of Engineering Education in the Department of Civil & Mechanical Engineering at The United States Military Academy, West Point, New York. Dr. Barry holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Rochester Institute of Technology, a Master of Science degree from University of Colorado at Boulder, and a PhD from Purdue University. Prior to pursuing a career in academics, Dr. Barry spent 10-years as a senior geotechnical engineer and project manager on projects throughout the United States. He is a licensed professional engineer in multiple states. Dr. Barry’s areas of research include assessment of professional ethics, teaching and learning in engineering education, nonverbal communication in the classroom, and learning through historical engineering accomplishments. He has authored and co-authored a significant number of journal articles and book chapters on these topics.

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Stephanie Slocum Engineers Rising LLC

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Stephanie Slocum is the founder of Engineers Rising LLC, where she helps engineers learn the leadership and people skills they need to let their technical abilities shine. Prior to founding Engineers Rising in 2018, she worked as a structural engineer for 15 years. She has extensive experience in the design and structural engineering project management of large commercial building projects, totaling over $500 million dollars in overall construction costs to date.

Stephanie is the current chair of ASCE’s Structural Engineering Institute’s Business Practices Committee, a member of the NCSEA SE3 committee, and a member of ASCE’s Task Committee on the Code of Ethics. She is also the author of She Engineers: Outsmart Bias, Unlock Your Potential, and Live the Engineering Career of your Dreams. She graduated with an integrated bachelor’s and master’s in architectural engineering, structural option, from The Pennsylvania State University in 2002.

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Has the Engineer of 2020 materialized as expected? Has the education of that engineer met the predictions established fifteen years ago? If so, how and what lessons can be learned moving forward? This paper will present a critical review of the current realities of the state of engineering practice and engineering education in the year 2020, based on where we expected to be when the National Academies published The Engineer of 2020 in 2004 and Educating the Engineer of 2020 in 2005.

How well did these two visionary reports predict the future? What aspects of each document are in fact reality, which continue to show potential, and which did not materialize as the committee envisioned? At the time of publication, both documents were prepared by an impressive collection of educators and practitioners. They were widely cited and deemed inspirational, aspirational, and paradigm changing. The Engineer of 2020 document focused on envisioning the future and predicting the roles that engineers would play in that future and included a list of desirable attributes. In contrast, Educating the Engineer of 2020 was the result of an engineering education summit focused on how to prepare engineers for the envisioned future. While both documents address the broad application of engineering, this paper will present specific evaluation through the lens of civil engineer practice and civil engineering education. In addition to the National Academies documents, this paper will consider more recent profession-shaping publications to include the American Society of Civil Engineer’s Body of Knowledge, 3rd Edition.

This paper will only present the views and opinions of the authors (a practitioner and an educator). Formal assessment will not be incorporated as part of this exploratory analysis methodology. It is anticipated that this paper will be of interest to both civil engineering practitioners and educators as they consider the state of the practice.

Barry, B. E., & Slocum, S. (2020, June), The Engineer of 2020 as of 2020 Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35315

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2020 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015