Engineering educators need practice experience
In reference to the feature article “Who needs to learn more about safety? Engineers, say roundtable panelists” (titled “An Academic Safety Challenge” in the September/October 2021 issue of Civil Engineering, pages 54-61), I applaud the initiative to strengthen the teaching of design and personal safety in the undergraduate curriculum. However, the challenges with implementation reflect a somewhat sad and disturbing commentary on our current educational system.
Specifically, as highlighted in the article, many civil engineering educators are focused on theory and/or lack practical experience to teach safety. Like several of the task force members quoted in the article, I benefited immensely from faculty in both my undergraduate and graduate programs who were experienced engineering practitioners. The fact that today’s students are not getting the same should be a cause for concern.
Bringing in lecturers or professors of practice to teach topics like safety treats the symptoms and not the root cause of a larger problem. Fixing the educational system to get the right balance back between educators with theory and (experience in) practice is not going to be easy, but we need to try.
Mitch Winkler, P.E., M.ASCE, Houston
I read the article on the Bay Area Rapid Transit expansion in the May/June issue of Civil Engineering (titled “Tech Core Transit” in the print version of the magazine, pages 42-49) and was very pleased. It was well written and had great images. However, the project credits should have listed the structural engineer of record for the structural design and analysis of the Milpitas BART station, which was my firm, MFT Consulting Engineers Inc. Founded in 1989, MFT is a small business certified by the Department of General Services in the state of California.
Munah F. Tarazi, P.E., S.E., M.ASCE, Pinole, California