Over 200 civil engineering educators, practitioners, and guests convened at the 2019 Civil Engineering Education Summit in Dallas, Texas, in May 2019 to consider the future of civil engineering education. The group discussions and workshops produced four major objectives for engineering educational systems.
Download the full Summit Report (PDF)
The world is becoming increasingly complex – thus, the challenges faced by engineers are becoming increasingly complex. Summit participants dared to ask the question: “In the context of the mid-21st century, what is a civil engineer?” Two elements related to this most fundamental question reflect the impact of technological advancement and the evolving role of the civil engineer in society.
The Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge, 3rd Edition (CEBOK3) calls for a combination of formal education, structured mentoring, and self-directed learning to position the civil engineer for career success, recognizing the multiple roles that civil engineers must serve in modern society. An undergraduate civil engineering curriculum provides the foundation on which to build the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of the future civil engineer.
Three areas receiving significant attention by Summit participants included:
These Summit discussions give rise to a major implication for 21st-century civil engineering education: curricular flexibility. Summit participants called for civil engineering departments to define for themselves a program of study to meet the needs of their stakeholders within very broad overarching guidelines. Such flexibility enables a more rapid response to technological changes in the profession; an integration of instruction addressing future roles of civil engineers; and an elevation of professional skills as a requirement of civil engineering education. These benefits must be balanced by a recognition of the benefit of having some degree of uniformity in education across the profession.
The need for strong professional skills has long been recognized by both civil engineering educators and practitioners.
ASEE “Grinter Report” (1955) included two outcomes related to this concept:
The Summary Report of the 1995 Civil Engineering Education Conference contained numerous recommendations related to professional skills, such as:
Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge, 3rd Edition
, published in 2019, also recognizes this need. It includes six outcomes related to professional skills: communication, teamwork and leadership, lifelong learning, professional attitudes, professional responsibilities, and ethical responsibilities.
Summit participants engaged in significant discussion regarding “professional culture” and related topics in the context of civil engineering. Although it may be tempting to place these topics and discussions within the realm of professional skills and attitudes, this subject rose to represent a major theme of the event. Participants explored the distinct yet interconnected nature of diversity, inclusion, and equity; the need to engage students at all levels; and the concept of permeating the student educational experience with these concepts. Summit participants suggested that the following elements need to be addressed by the entire profession, within both the education and practitioner communities:
Summit participants agreed that the 2019 Civil Engineering Education Summit was highly worthwhile and expressed both hope and confidence that real and significant change could result from the work accomplished during the Summit. Change will require:
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