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The Merits of a Civil Engineering Certification to Validate Fulfillment of the CE-BOK

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

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

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Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


Bradley F. Aldrich American Society of Civil Engineers Orcid 16x16

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Bradley F. Aldrich, P.E., F.NSPE, F.ASCE is President of Aldrich + Elliott, PC an environmental engineering firm and also serves as vice-chair of the Board of Professional Regulation for Engineers in Vermont. He earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Vermont. Over his thirty-five year career, Mr. Aldrich has held project management and leadership positions with a national general contractor and several engineering firms before forming Aldrich + Elliott twenty years ago. He has served with distinction in the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) where he held the position of national President in 2008-2009. He is a registered professional engineer in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts and is a fellow member of both NSPE and ASCE.

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Jennifer Hofmann American Society of Civil Engineers

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Jennifer Hofmann, M.A.Ed, Aff.M.ASCE is the Manager of Professional & Technical Advancement at ASCE. In this role, she serves as primary staff contact for the Committee on Preparing the Future Civil Engineer (CPFCE) and aid in advancing the Engineer Tomorrow initiative. Jen has a B.A. in Psychology from The College of William and Mary and an M.A. in Education and Human Development with a concentration in Educational Technology Leadership from The George Washington University.

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Norma J. Mattei P.E. University of New Orleans

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Norma Jean Mattei, PhD, PE, currently is Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, after recently serving as Dept Chair and Interim Dean of Engineering at the University of New Orleans. She now serves as one of two civilian civil engineer Commissioners on the Mississippi River Commission (MRC), nominated by President Obama. She just completed her year as 2017 President of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Locally she is still active on the Executive Committee of the ASCE New Orleans’ Chapter of the Structural Engineering Institute. Norma Jean also has served in the past on several National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) committees and task forces, serving as chair of the Board-level NCEES Education Committee and is an Emeritus Member of NCEES. She was named by the Governor of Louisiana to Louisiana’s licensing board for professional engineers, LAPELS, serving as Chairman of the LAPELS Board in 2011-12. Mattei received her BSCE in 1982 from Tulane University and practiced as a consulting engineer in the New Orleans area for a decade before returning to Tulane (PhD, 1994). Her research areas of interest include engineering ethics, public policy and leadership, diversity in engineering and engineering education, management of large watersheds, mitigation of repetitively flooded structures in southeast Louisiana, experimental testing of large parts, residual stress measurement using laser interferometry, and materials testing (fatigue, shear, etc.). She, her husband, two engineer daughters and engineer son-in-law all reside in New Orleans.

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Michael B. O'Connor New York University Orcid 16x16

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The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has been at the forefront of efforts to protect the licensure of civil engineers, the jurisdiction of civil engineers, and to make licensure of civil engineers more relevant in our changing world. Through three editions of the Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge (CE-BOK), ASCE has identified an ever-widening gap between the knowledge, skills and attitudes that civil engineers need to serve in responsible charge, and what is measured through professional licensure (the legal authority to practice). Until recently, ASCE attempted to close this gap through licensure reform without success. Concluding that further attempts to change licensing laws are futile at this time, ASCE is exploring creation of a certification to attest to a civil engineer’s attainment of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for responsible charge – as defined by the third edition of The Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge (CE-BOK3). This paper will explore the merits of a civil engineering certification to supplement engineering licensure – or one day replace licensure if further threats diminish or eliminate professional licensure as we know it today.

ASCE published the first edition of The Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge (CE-BOK1) in 2004. CE-BOK1 made clear that a civil engineering baccalaureate degree from an ABET-accredited program provides insufficient academic preparation for licensure as a professional engineer. ASCE completed work on the third edition of The Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge (CE-BOK3) in 2019. In many respects, CE-BOK3 places higher expectations on civil engineers than earlier versions. What CE-BOK3 makes clear, is the need for civil engineers to pursue post-graduate education along with structured mentorship, self-development, and life-long learning to first attain then maintain the competencies required for responsible charge today and into the future. It is also clear that licensure does not ensure fulfillment of the CE-BOK. Filling this critical – and ever-widening gap – is the driving focus behind ASCE’s interest in creating a civil engineering certification program to recognize attainment of the CE-BOK, in the various specialties of civil engineering.

The purpose of this paper is to answer the following research questions: • Why do future civil engineers need to fulfill the CE-BOK to meet ever-changing societal needs and expectations? • Why does professional licensure fail to validate fulfillment of the CE-BOK? • Is there merit to the creation of a civil engineering certification to supplement licensure and validate fulfillment of the CE-BOK? • What can be learned from certification programs of other licensed professions?

Based on the answers to these questions, the authors conclude with recommendations.

Aldrich, B. F., & Hofmann, J., & Mattei, N. J., & O'Connor, M. B. (2021, July), The Merits of a Civil Engineering Certification to Validate Fulfillment of the CE-BOK Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37877

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