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Why Raise The Education Bar For Civil Engineers?

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Academic Prerequisites for Licensure

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.1321.1 - 7.1321.13

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Paper Authors

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Brewer Stouffer

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Jeffrey Russell

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Session 1315

Why Raise the Education Bar for Civil Engineers? Jeffrey S. Russell, Ph.D., P.E., Brewer Stouffer, Stuart G. Walesh, Ph.D., P.E., Richard O. Anderson, P.E., Bobby E. Price, P.E., Angela DeSoto Duncan, P.E., Brook A. Maples, P.E., Norman L. Buehring, P.E., Gerald E. Galloway, Ph.D., P.E., Thomas A. Lenox, Ph.D., Jonathan C. Esslinger, P.E., John E. Durrant, P.E., and Brian K. Parsons, P.E.


In October of 2001, the Board of Direction of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) unanimously voted to revise and move forward with Policy Statement 465, entitled “Academic Prerequisites for Licensure and Professional Practice.” This policy “supports the concept of the Master’s degree or Equivalent as a prerequisite for licensure and the practice of civil engineering at a professional level.” 6 The revised policy, a version of which was first accepted by the Board in 1998, is expected to enhance the prestige, image, compensation, and qualifications of the profession, as well as public health, safety, and welfare. To accomplish this, the policy identifies stakeholders and their responsibilities:

ASCE encourages institutions of higher education, governmental units, employers, civil engineers, and other appropriate organizations to endorse, support, and promote the concept of mandatory post-baccalaureate education for the practice of civil engineering at a professional level. The implementation of this effort should occur through establishing appropriate curricula in the formal education experience, appropriate recognition and compensation in the workplace, and congruent standards for licensure.6

The purpose of this paper is to better define the broad issues necessitating an increase in education. The ASCE Task Committee on the First Professional Degree has identified nine such issues, presented in Figure 1. 36 The three issues at the top of the figure—slippage in education and licensure requirements relative to other professions, reduction in credit hours, and relatively low compensation—have been discussed in previous papers by the first three authors. 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 This paper will address the remaining six issues as the basis to move forward to raise the educational bar in civil engineering.

Leadership Preparation

Civil engineers are not commonly perceived as leaders outside of their specialized technical communities. In a recent special issue, Time Magazine named the most influential “Builders and Titans of the 20th century.” 12 Among such varied luminaries as Henry Ford and Walt Disney, only Stephen Bechtel represented the ranks of civil engineers. Whereas “star” architects such as I.M. Pei, Frank Gehry, Ceasar Pelli, and Santiago Calatrava are commonly celebrated in the media as visionaries and their projects given front-page, color representation, civil engineers are

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Stouffer, B., & Russell, J. (2002, June), Why Raise The Education Bar For Civil Engineers? Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada.

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