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When Civil Engineering Technology Is Elevated To Civil Engineering, What Can Fill The Technology Void

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Engineering and ET Relationships & Professional Development

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1398.1 - 13.1398.11



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Paper Authors

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James Lambrechts Wentworth Institute of Technology

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

When Civil Engineering Technology is Elevated to Civil Engineering, What Can Fill the Technology Void?


Currently, graduates with civil engineering technology degrees from 4-year institutions can eventually become registered professional civil engineers in 39 states. Many students choose the technology path in higher education because the instruction they receive is viewed as more practical and ‘hands-on’. The CET program at Wentworth is thriving, and has gained considerable recognition over the past decade, with employers of our graduates saying that their new employees are indeed well prepared technically for the civil engineering tasks. However, with its recent action to adopt the ASCE Policy Statement 465, the National Council of Examiners of Engineers and Surveyors (NCEES) is essentially saying that technology programs will no longer qualify graduates for licensure. Without the possibility of professional registration, many parents will no longer allow their child to even consider going to an institution for four years of training. In light of expected plummeting enrollments, we are beginning the process to remold our CET program to be full civil engineering, and this may well be an arduous journey, because we want to retain our roots in ‘hands-on’ education while satisfying the requirements for full engineering instruction. However, this departure from civil engineering technology would leave a void in the preparation of civil engineering ‘technologists’ both for site engineering and the traditional “number-cruncher” in the office. It would appear that there will be an increasing demand for technologists for both field and office engineering, but career path potential has not yet been established in education and industry. The technologist will be in ever greater demand as the educational background and expectations of graduating civil engineers who directly pursue their Master’s degree grow. This paper presents our deliberations on both; how to elevate the to full engineering while retaining the ‘hands-on’ heritage, and thoughts on the future need for the ‘new’ technology that will be needed to keep the U.S. civil engineering profession a globally competitive workforce.


The civil engineering profession is about to experience what appears to be a major “sea-change” in the background preparation of under-graduates in ABET accredited colleges and universities. The American Society of Civil Engineers has for a number of years had a goal to “raise the bar” as to the qualifications for achieving professional licensure as civil engineers (and related specialty branches available in some states). Not only will post-graduate education be necessary (either a Master’s degree or 30 credits of approved study), but the new ABET criteria appears likely to require major changes in the form and content of under-graduate education for civil engineering. What will be the impacts of these changes for Civil Engineering Technology education? As it has been known in recent years, CET in about 25 four-year institutions has provided a sound educational background to begin training for the practice of civil engineering. A CET graduate from many 4-year schools can calculate rebar sizing, runoff quantity, pavement thickness, BOD and COD treatment requirements, perhaps as well as a graduate from a civil engineering school. Granted, the educational basis in CET is somewhat less theoretical than a student would receive in a full civil engineering curriculum. However, the CET graduate can

Lambrechts, J. (2008, June), When Civil Engineering Technology Is Elevated To Civil Engineering, What Can Fill The Technology Void Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4125

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