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The Raise the Bar Initiative: Response of Three Curricula to ASCE's Educational Recommendations

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Reflections on the “Raise the Bar” Initiative (Part I) - Using a Decade of Experience to Chart the Future

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1332.1 - 25.1332.27



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Paper Authors


Kenneth J. Fridley University of Alabama

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Kenneth J. Fridley is professor and Head of the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Ala. A strong advocate for improving the preparedness of future engineers, Fridley recently served as the Vce-chair of the ASCE Body of Knowledge 2 (BOK2) Committee and served as Chair of the ASCE BOK Educational Fulfillment Committee. Fridley also served as an Educational Consultant to the NCEES Engineering Education Task Force, which developed recommendations for changes to the national model law and rules as related to educational requirements for licensure.

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Kevin D. Hall University of Arkansas

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Kevin D. Hall is a professor and the Head of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Arkansas, and holds the 21st Century Leadership Chair in civil engineering. He received his B.S.C.E from the University of Arkansas in 1986. After working for just over two years with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he returned to the University of Arkansas and completed his M.S.C.E. in 1990. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in 1993 prior to joining the faculty of the University of Arkansas. Hall is very active in both the research and education communities. He has published more than 70 articles and given more than 150 presentations to various groups. His primary teaching and research interests include pavement design, materials, construction, and rehabilitation, in addition to the topics of professionalism, licensure, and ethics. On the education front, he serves as the co-Chair of the ASCE Body of Knowledge Education Fulfillment Committee (BOKEdFC), and is an active participant in the Civil Engineering Division of ASEE. In terms of technical/research efforts, he currently serves on eight committees, task groups, and panels through the Transportation Research Board (chairing one standing committee of TRB and one NCHRP Project Panel), and numerous committees with ASTM and industry. Hall founded the Center for Training Transportation Professionals at the University of Arkansas, which provides training and certification for QA/QC testing technicians in Arkansas. He has been recognized as the top teacher in his department one time, and the top researcher a total of five times; he also received the University of Arkansas’ highest faculty recognition – the Arkansas Alumni Association Outstanding Faculty Award – for teaching and research. Hall is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Arkansas.

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James K. Nelson Jr. P.E. University of Texas, Tyler

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James K. Nelson received a bachelor's of civil engineering degree from the University of Dayton in 1974. He received the master's of science and doctorate of philosophy degrees in civil engineering from the University of Houston. During his graduate study, Nelson specialized in structural engineering. He is a registered Professional Engineer in four states, a Chartered Engineer in the United Kingdom, and a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He is also a member of the American Society for Engineering Education and the SAFE Association. Prior to receiving his Ph.D. in 1983, Nelson worked as a Design Engineer in industry and taught as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Houston and Texas A&M University at Galveston. In industry, he was primarily involved in design of floating and fixed structures for the offshore petroleum industry. After receiving his Ph.D., Nelson joined the civil engineering faculty at Texas A&M University. He joined the civil engineering faculty at Clemson University in 1989 as Program Director and founder of the Clemson University Graduate Engineering Programs at the Citadel and became Chair of civil engineering in 1998.
In July 2002, Nelson joined the faculty at Western Michigan University as Chair of civil and construction engineering. At Western Michigan he started the civil engineering undergraduate and graduate degree programs and also chaired the departments of Materials Science and Engineering and Industrial Design. In summer 2005, he joined the faculty at the University of Texas, Tyler. At UT Tyler, he was the founding Chair of the Department of Civil Engineering and instituted the bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. In 2006, he became the Dean of engineering and computer science.
Nelson's primary technical research interest is the behavior of structural systems. For almost 25 years, he has been actively involved in evaluating the behavior of free-fall lifeboats and the development of analytical tools to predict that behavior. His research has formed the basis for many of the regulations of the International Maritime Organization for free-fall lifeboat performance. Since 1998, Nelson has served as a technical advisor to the United States Delegation to the International Maritime Organization, which is a United Nations Treaty Organization. In that capacity, he is a primary author of the international recommendation for testing free-fall lifeboats and many of the international regulations regarding the launch of free-fall lifeboats.
He has authored many technical papers that have been presented in national and international forums and co-authored three textbooks. Nelson chaired a national committee of the American Society of Civil Engineers for curriculum redesign supporting the civil engineering body of knowledge. He is actively engaged in developing strategies for enhancing the STEM education pipeline in Texas and nationally and has testified before the Texas Senate Higher Education Committee in that regard. He served on a committee of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to develop a statewide articulation compact for mechanical engineering and currently chairs the council for developing articulation compacts in other engineering disciplines. He also served on the Texas State Board of Education committee preparing the standards for career and technical education.

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference; San Antonio, Texas; June 10-13, 2012 The “Raise the Bar” Initiative: Charting the Future by Understanding the Path to the Present – How Are BSCE Curricula Responding?Beginning in 1995 at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Civil Engineering EducationConference (CEEC ’95), key educational and professional leaders of the civil engineeringcommunity in the United States have been working to reform civil engineering education. In1998, the call for action from CEEC ’95 ultimately resulted in the passage of ASCE PolicyStatement 465—Academic Prerequisites for Licensure and Professional Practice. ASCE Policy465 states that, in the future, education beyond the baccalaureate degree will be necessary forentry into the professional practice of civil engineering. In 2002, an ASCE Board-levelcommittee, the Committee on Academic Prerequisites for Professional Practice (CAP^3), wasformed to study and implement the actions that would be necessary to achieve this vision forcivil engineering. The last ten years have produced significant progress in ASCE’S “Raise the Bar”initiative.To maintain the initiative’s momentum, the successful processes of the past and the associated“lessons learned” must be clearly communicated to future leaders and proponents of the “Raisethe Bar” initiative. Much has been learned from the experiences of the past – and these hard-learned experiences should guide the future direction of the initiative. A quotation (from AdlaiE. Stevenson) comes to mind: “We can chart our future clearly and wisely only when we knowthe path which has led to the present.”This is one of several scholarly papers that will be written and presented in recognition of thetenth anniversary of establishing CAP^3. The collective papers will provide engineeringeducators and practitioners with a description of the history, lessons learned, and next stepsrelated to the “raise the bar" initiative. These papers will be written from six different, yetrelated, perspectives including the (1) overall initiative, (2) civil engineering bodies ofknowledge, (3) changed university curricula, (4) draft experiential guidelines, (5) revisedaccreditation criteria, and (6) modified licensure laws and rules. This paper will provide a reviewof the recommendations for formal education resulting from the “raise the bar” initiative thatimpact the undergraduate curriculum. Additionally, the effectiveness of the efforts toimplement change will be assessed based on a survey of civil engineering curricula to determinechanges made in the undergraduate curriculum as a result of the recommendations. Finally,curricular changes driven by the “raise the bar” initiative in three specific BSCE programs will beoverviewed.COORDINATING NOTE:This abstract is submitted at the specific invitation and request of Tom Lenox, the coordinator ofthe ASCE Liaison Committee’s program for the CE Division of ASEE in 2012. It should beconsidered for inclusion in the session that Tom Lenox is organizing and moderating.

Fridley, K. J., & Hall, K. D., & Nelson, J. K. (2012, June), The Raise the Bar Initiative: Response of Three Curricula to ASCE's Educational Recommendations Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22089

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