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Transportation Engineering And Its Role In The Undergraduate Civil Engineering Technology Curriculum

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.1070.1 - 6.1070.6

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Thomas Currin

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

Session 3549

Transportation Engineering and Its Role in the Undergraduate Civil Engineering Technology Curriculum by Thomas R. Currin Ph.D.,P.E.


At Southern Polytechnic State University a survey of alumni conducted in 1994 revealed that over 50 percent of the graduates were employed in transportation or transportation related fields. All of the surveyed graduates working in transportation had taken one required transportation course as part of their undergraduate experience and felt their education did not properly prepare them for their employment. Given the common practice of requiring one transportation overview course at the undergraduate level and the dirth of elective undergraduate transportation engineering courses being taught, it is speculated that many other graduates are ill prepared as well.

This paper details the changes that were made to the curriculum over the next several years which have culminated with a complete roster of undergraduate transportation courses and the establishment of only the second undergraduate ITE student chapter in the nation. Detailed herein are the challenges that were met to bring about the paradigm shift away from the notion that transportation education is solely a graduate school function to acceptance of transportation engineering as part of the undergraduate curriculum. What works and what does not at this level is presented with suggestions for others implementing such a program. In addition, a stepwise procedure for monitoring the changes via learning outcomes assessment is presented.


Historically, transportation engineering education has been limited at the undergraduate level. Specific topics of transportation planning, traffic engineering and highway design have been limited in depth and breadth due to the limitations of the undergraduate curriculum. In addition, educators have implied through their practice that undergraduates are too immature to appreciate the subtleties of and detail associated with these topics. It is understood that this level of detail is best left to the graduate school. This paper challenges that understanding and addresses how undergraduate transportation engineering was elevated at one institution.

This paper addresses the need, as well as the fulfillment of the need, for more transportation engineering education at the undergraduate level. Included are the identification of the problems as well as the solutions tested to resolve the problems associated with bringing this concept to fruition at Southern Polytechnic State University (SPSU). It is hoped that after reading this paper the reader will be encouraged to review his/her own institution’s

Currin, T. (2001, June), Transportation Engineering And Its Role In The Undergraduate Civil Engineering Technology Curriculum Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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