June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.1353.1 - 15.1353.14
WANTED! More Dam Engineers
This paper will discuss the student outreach initiatives of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO), a national non-profit association of over 2,800 members representing state and federal agencies, consulting firms, dam and levee owners, manufacturers and suppliers, researchers, college faculty, students and others dedicated to ensuring the safety of our nation’s dams.
While new dam construction peaked several decades ago, the nation’s existing dams require ongoing maintenance, many need extensive rehabilitation, and others will be removed. The American Society of Civil Engineers has consistently assigned dams a grade of ‘D’ on its Report Card for America's Infrastructure, noting that the number of dams identified as “unsafe” is increasing at a faster rate than those being repaired.
The disastrous levee failures resulting from Hurricane Katrina and a recent report by the National Committee on Levee Safety3 that cited a need for “creating a cadre of national levee experts” also underscore the need to recruit students into careers dedicated to dam and levee safety. In addition to the nearly 90,000 dams listed in the National Inventory of Dams, the U.S. is home to an estimated 114,000 miles of federal and non-federal levees, many of uncertain condition.
According to surveys of association members conducted by the authors in 2004 and 2009, there is an inadequate supply of qualified candidates for jobs relating to dam and levee safety, and the shortage will likely increase as “boomer-era” experts retire. Accordingly, ASDSO is providing incentives to attract students to the field through a Speakers Bureau, a Student Employment Opportunities Clearinghouse, a Student Paper Competition, scholarship awards, and free student admission to the group’s national and regional conferences.
Additionally, ASDSO seeks to increase collaboration between its members and universities in the areas of specialized training, research, and development of capstone courses.
This paper will:
Look at current hiring needs within government and private sector communities; Outline how ASDSO’s projects are helping to attract students to professions in dam and levee safety; and Challenge the engineering education community to foster greater collaboration between universities and practicing engineers who specialize in dam engineering.
A Shortage of Engineers: Perceptions and Solutions
Over the past two decades, an apparent decline in the percentage of college students studying engineering led to speculation about its potential effects on the nation’s future. According to a 2003 American College Testing (ACT) report2, fewer than six percent of seniors who took the ACT examination in 2002 planned to study engineering; a decade earlier, the figure was nearly
McCubbin-Cain, S., & Tschantz, B. (2010, June), Wanted! More Dam Engineers Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16080
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