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Transitioning To Academia

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Transitioning to an Academic Career

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1357.1 - 10.1357.6



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Paper Authors

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Philip Dunn

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Transitioning to Academia

Philip A. Dunn, Jr. PE

Assistant Professor of Construction Management Technology, School of Engineering Technology, University of Maine at Orono


After 23 years working as an engineer in a private consultant firm, a municipality, and a state department of transportation, I had the opportunity to teach at my alma mater. I took the opportunity and because of the immediate need to fill the position, I left my employer and began teaching duties in a short two week time frame. I was assigned two full time courses and additionally took on duties assisting with two other courses. I soon devised organizational techniques to develop lectures that incorporated both textbook information and additional material. I also recognized that anecdotes from my work experiences helped explain many concepts. Using my contacts in industry, I was able to obtain supplemental materials to distribute in class and have speakers that could address specific areas of interest. I also became involved in some student activities so that I could get to know individual students better. To help develop my teaching skills, I took several on-campus seminars that introduced me to campus protocols and teaching techniques. As an outsider, I had to learn the computer systems used for communication throughout the university and the variety of offices that service the professional campus community. As an educator, I found that I needed to present the basic and most current information to students such that they could understand the state of practice. The academic requirements formed through the Industrial Advisory Committee and the ABET accreditation process introduced a different perspective to me that demonstrate the progressive development of modern educational standards.


There is an old saying, “those that can do and those that can’t teach.” This saying reflects the beliefs of many practicing engineers who feel that students are not taught practical information. Practicing engineers recognize that students learn the important theories of engineering in academic settings, but students need to be “trained” to the work environment before they can be valuable in the workplace. “Academics just can’t apply theory to real life situations.”

I had always admired my engineering instructors and professors during my undergraduate and graduate years in college. I continued contact with many of my former professors through continued professional and alumni relationships since graduating in 1981 with a BS degree in Civil Engineering. During my professional practice, I encountered several new graduate engineers entering the workplace and took special effort to help them get acclimated into their new work environments. I was able to mentor several of these new engineers and could see how quickly they adapted to new technology. As a supervisor to some new engineers, I allowed them to implement changes to improve processes in an often unyielding work environment entrenched

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Dunn, P. (2005, June), Transitioning To Academia Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14356

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