ABET Civil Engineering Program Criteria Draft

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_4. ... apply knowledge of mathematics...

  • 1.  _4. ... apply knowledge of mathematics...

    Posted 04-28-2021 03:49 PM

     

    CURRENT CRITERIA

    PROPOSED CRITERIA

    RATIONALE FOR CHANGE

    4

    apply knowledge of mathematics through differential equations, calculus-based physics, chemistry, and at least one additional area of basic science;

    apply knowledge of mathematics through differential equations, calculus-based physics, chemistry, and at least one additional area of natural science;

    • The term "basic science" has been changed to "natural science" to reflect consistency with the CEBOK3.


  • 2.  RE: _4. ... apply knowledge of mathematics...

    Posted 05-28-2021 10:18 PM
    As a qualifier to all my posts, I teach in an ABET ETAC program. We have been looking at what would be required to transform into EAC. The biggest barrier for our students will be differential equations. In either criteria it is says "apply knowledge of mathematics through differential equations, calculus based physics,". The statement does not go on to say to the effect to apply the subject to civil engineering problems like some of the other criteria do. How do EAC schools do this in practice. Is the requirement satisfied for ABET EAC if the students simply take differential equations and calculus-based physics? Are EAC programs using differential equations and calculus-based physics in their CE courses?

    Regarding natural science, I recall as an undergraduate in 2003 taking a ABET EAC curriculum that had general chemistry, general chemistry lab, physics (mechanics), physics (E&M), both with lab, and a choice between either organic chemistry or wave physics & quantum physics. The current curriculum for my alma mater does not have a choice between either organic chemistry or wave physics & quantum physics; they are not mentioned at all. I assume the current curriculum is using geology as a basic science. Is there an added value for a workforce civil engineer for taking an extra natural science over a basic science? The reason I ask is the cost to benefit ratio of this change in today's higher education climate. I assume geology won't count as a natural science as it always seemed to me natural science is biology, chemistry, and physics only. Is it for example going to be a benefit to a civil engineer that isn't going to be work with bituminous materials for at a petroleum company to take organic chemistry? Being higher education's champion for the student and the workforce first, I'm concerned is switching from basic science to natural science without more sound rationale results in just and increase credits for some programs and thus cost passed on to the student.

    ------------------------------
    David Fedor P.E., M.S.
    Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering Technology
    Pennsylvania College of Technology
    Williamsport, PA
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: _4. ... apply knowledge of mathematics...

    Posted 05-30-2021 05:07 AM
    Would it require to include a course of Biology in addition to Physics and Chemistry.

    ------------------------------
    Syed Ahmad
    Jubail
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  • 4.  RE: _4. ... apply knowledge of mathematics...

    Posted 05-30-2021 08:58 AM
    The way I was conditioned in STEM education, it would have to be biology. I would prefer it to be geology or environmental science rather than biology if I was designing a civil engineering curriculum. That is just my opinion and preference.

    I just Googled and cherrypicked, but it does seem like some sources (not peer reviewed) include earth science and astronomy under the umbrella of natural science. Having confirmation from the task committee on ABET's interpretation of natural science and does not constrain the additional area to biology and who's definition of natural science (e.g. National Academy of Sciences) is being used would alleviate my concerns.

    I suppose I can see the issue with basic science being that broad of a term could imply social science would be suitable.

    ------------------------------
    David Fedor P.E., M.S.
    Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering Technology
    Pennsylvania College of Technology
    Williamsport, PA
    ------------------------------



  • 5.  RE: _4. ... apply knowledge of mathematics...

    Posted 05-31-2021 07:02 AM
    It would be very helpful if the task committee of ABET could provide a clear difference between basic science and natural science. That will help to decide what topics should be included in the curriculum.
    I would like to request ABET to make it very clear whether a separate courses for this additional area is required to be included or we can have this application of knowledge in a civil engineering course. For example the students apply some knowledge of biology in the course of water and wastewater treatment and also the knowledge of geology is applied in the course of geotechnical engineering or foundation engineering. Will it be enough, or a separate course of one additional area of natural science would be compulsorily added in the curriculum. Another important point is about the number of credits for this additional area of natural science if it has to be a separate course in addition to Physics and Chemistry.

    ------------------------------
    Syed Ahmad
    Jubail
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: _4. ... apply knowledge of mathematics...

    Posted 06-02-2021 07:09 PM
    The ABET EAC Criteria clearly define Basic Science as follows: "Basic sciences are disciplines focused on knowledge or understanding of the fundamental aspects of natural phenomena. Basic sciences consist of chemistry and physics and other natural sciences including life, earth, and space sciences."
    Based on this definition, it seems clear that ABET considers the terms Basic Science and Natural Science to be synonymous.

    The ASCE CEBOK3 defines Natural Science as follows: Natural science is the knowledge of objects or processes observable in nature such as physical earth and life sciences, for example, biology, physics, chemistry, as distinguished from the abstract or theoretical sciences such as mathematics or philosophy. It involves the description, prediction, and understanding of natural phenomena, based on empirical evidence from observation and experimentation. Chemistry and physics are two disciplines of the natural sciences that have historically served as basic foundations for civil engineering. Additional disciplines of natural science, including biology, ecology, geology, meteorology, and others are also important in various specialty areas of civil engineering practice.

    Please note that--at least for for accreditation purposes--geology is considered a natural science.

    ------------------------------
    Stephen Ressler Ph.D., P.E., Dist.M.ASCE
    Professor Emeritus
    Bethlehem PA
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: _4. ... apply knowledge of mathematics...

    Posted 06-03-2021 03:34 PM

    I would like to paraphrase here a comment I made in the "general comments section (17)," about the inability of most students (including our brightest ones) to apply even the most basic notions of calculus to engineering problems, and the need for a radical change in the way that Calculus (and about everything else) is taught to engineering students, so that real learning can be achieved. Again, I refer you to "Bella, D., 2003, Plug and chug, cram and flush, ASCE J Prof Iss Eng Ed Pr" for comments that directly (but differently) relate to my main points. I am sorry if this is too long, but I don't have more time to edit it.... At least, I will try to make it as legible and entertaining as possible.

    This comment is split in two parts: First, I will discuss my understanding of Bloom's taxonomical levels, and conclude that IMO most assessments in engineering education (and basically in all fields) are at very low levels, mostly level 1 ("Remember"), with very little (if any) "Comprehension" and "Application." Second, I will criticize the way mathematics are taught to engineering students, and outline what I would do if I were in charge (which I'm not... so "survival of the Math Dept" is not one of my constraints!).

    First part: What does it really mean, "to apply?"

    According to ASCE BOK 3: "Apply - use learned material in new and concrete situations."


    This is exactly what I ask for in my assessments, mostly! Some people have suggested to me that to "only" ask for "Apply," is a rather low requirement in the pecking order of the revised Bloom taxonomy (as it is "only" the 3rd level, and there is still "Analyze, "Synthesize, " and "Evaluate" above it). The thing is, in my opinion and experience, the vast majority of assessments in engineering (in homework, quizzes, tests, final exams) actually are either at the first or second level, most times at the first: "repeat something." My impression here is that many well-meaning engineering educators get somehow confused and assume that "because the problem has different numbers," then "it is a different problem" and thus "students are truly being asked to apply." Note that a more cynical explanation for the prevalence of Level 1 questions would be "well, because it is easier; we just keep doing what we've always done: class example, homework to "drill down those concepts," and then similar question in the test; and of course we repeat test questions" (all of this, needless to say, following some textbook which is filled with 'similar questions', all of which are already answered - at Level 1, you guessed it - in Chegg, Course Hero, YouTube, etc.).

    IMO, this is plain wrong: any time a student can solve a problem by just repeating a procedure, without the need to think (why is this problem different? how do I interpret or conceptualize how this system works, as compared to the one shown in class or in the homework? am I being given all the information I need? isn't this information that I'm being given in the "problem description" unnecessary or superfluous? can this problem really be solved? etc), then it is not an application to a new situation but most probably corresponds only to the very basic level, 1, "to remember" (in this case, remember a certain "set procedure").

    I am sorry if this sounds too cynical, but in a way, I could synthesize something I have observed in my 30 years of trying to instill real learning to students from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines by saying: "when people think 'oh, it is so hard to study engineering and become an engineer,' it is mostly because in "engineering education," you are requested to remember really complicated procedures by heart (say, integration by parts in Calc II, or how to fit a lognormal distribution for a frequency analysis in Hydrology, given a sample of annual peaks), while in most other fields the "only" thing you are required to remember by heart is the material."

    Well, as I said above, "learning" in such a way is not learning at all! You have just memorized a procedure (yes, I know, very complicated at times... I still remember my "Optimization Methods" class with the industrial engineers...) and you are able to remember that procedure by heart, just as in some other field they want students to learn the names of all 206 bones in the human body by heart. But ask yourself: do I really know that much (if anything at all) about what I'm studying? Can you answer deeper questions?  If I were to ask you "how does this really work?" you might be able to repeat some story you memorized, but if I, say, took one part of the system out and asked "what will happen now?" or else if I gave you a different system (that you should be able to understand if you had truly learned the concepts, or "comprehended"), or if I gave you the same information in a different form (say, a histogram of values instead of the actual list of values in the sample), would you be able to answer successfully? Of course, many of our best students are able to do this by nature, but that is not the point of getting an education: we want normal students to be able to achieve the level of "Apply"! Applying concepts like "histogram" and "median," say, is not being able to build a histogram or compute the median given data (Excel can do that for you!). Now, being able to decently estimate the median of such data if you are given only the histogram instead of the original data, that is an adequate assessment of your understanding ("comprehension") of these concepts! When I teach and then assess these concepts, I want my average students to achieve this level, not only the bright ones.

    Many times though, we only teach the "how to" (the tool, the equation, the recipe) but nothing else... If that is the case, how would we ever be able to assess at any level but Level 1, "Remember?"  A common reason given for this style of "teaching" (it is not teaching according to me) is that "there is so much stuff to cover in the program that I can't devote any time to the "thinking" part of the material, or else the FE gremlins will come for me for not having taught ……."  – you are supposed to fill in here what 'FE-required topic' it is that you are always scared you won't have enough time to cover… I won't discuss this, but Bella's (2003) arguments should convince many if I'm not able to do so.

    Note also that in my experience as a student, in a very "rigorous" system (6 yr program; 55% of students would go home in the first year; 3 of us out of 65 graduated in 6 years), many engineering faculty confuse "application" with "complication." Instead of crafting simple assessment questions, that are still able to differentiate between those students that truly comprehend and can apply, and those that cannot, they take the same "complicated procedure" that was taught in class, but make it even more complicated in the test, by virtue of "muddling" things or playing tricks on the students. Good examples of this are (i) asking the same concept but for a very complicated geometrical shape or function (so that a 4th year student must remember what a "clothoid" is) or (ii) adding the need for some calculus (take a derivative, compute an integral, etc. - most students in their final years really cannot remember these, except for the very basic ones), or (iii) focusing on something that was taught in class as an "afterthought," but is then worth 40 points in the final ... (evil laugh...)

    An example from open-channel hydraulics:

    When I teach open-channel flow (OCF), one of the first slides in my Intro says:

    "Most of what is taught as OCF is actually pure mathematics: Compute critical depth for a channel cross-section composed of half an inverted cycloid and half a nautilus logarithmic spiral… You can't do it?? Hahaha.. -evil laugh again- you don't know hydraulics!"

    That is just so wrong! A real understanding of open-channel hydraulics requires deep comprehension of much more profound concepts, such as "choking a flow," "hydraulic controls," "backwater effects," and of course the ability to hypothesize the possible characteristics of a compound flow profile, so that an informed approach can be used in order to solve it, discarding alternatives ("yes, there's got to be a jump between here and there", or "no, I conclude that this reach cannot be supercritical", or even "hmm… this jump is going to be drowned by the downstream-imposed stage"). But many times, OCF is indeed taught and assessed by asking students only things like "compute critical depth by minimizing specific energy" (which implies writing the function correctly -that's hydraulics, and then the complicated, mathematical part: writing its derivative, equalling to zero, etc...- even though it should be added that critical depth is not exactly that flow depth that minimizes specific energy, see "Liggett, J.A., 1993, Critical depth, velocity profiles, and averaging, ASCE J Irrig Drain Eng").
    This is a clear example of how we lose our way when teaching engineering students... What is more important in the end: for them to clearly visualize how flow profiles work, for the simpler cases, or to solve "little games involving complicated cross-sectional shapes and calculus"? I should mention here the engineering (real-world) relevance of playing such games: (i) nobody will ever be asked to play them again; they will all use HEC-RAS when working, (ii) real-world cross-sections are either natural and variable (non-channelized streams and rivers - need the standard-step method, i.e., apply HEC-RAS), or else they are uniform, with a shape that is trapezoidal, triangular, rectangular, or horseshoe (need the direct-step method, i.e., still apply HEC-RAS, as nobody solves these things by hand any more). That's it, I just covered probably 99.5% of all cross-sections, and real-world applications, out there…

    Some will say "oh, but you can't teach the real material (flow profiles) until students know the tools (i.e., can compute critical depth, normal depth, etc.)." I agree, but if you spend the whole semester playing math games, no matter how complicated, and at the end the students still don't visualize what a flow profile is, or how you solve it, then (i) you did not really teach those "tool concepts," nor assessed whether they were understood, you just gave recipes and then played complicated games with them; (ii) the students still don't know OCF hydraulics (beyond computing a few numbers at a given cross-section), and most worrisome; (iii) they will still have learned to use HEC-RAS, but without having a real understanding of what the software is actually doing. This supposedly hypothetical situation happens way too many times, if you ask me! In other words, I have known too many "hydraulic engineers" who just don't know (understand, comprehend, visualize) their hydraulic engineering: They can use Manning's equation and compute a critical depth, but they truly have no clue: if a reach along a small creek floods recurrently, they will come up with a project calling for its channelization, so that the "creek" now has a much-increased conveyance capacity... But wait... this reach flooded not because of lack of conveyance, but due to the fact that the next bridge half a mile below has got one span silted! Not only was "the problem" completely different, it also happened somewhere else! The "solution" was no solution: it destroyed the creek, converted it into a ditch, and the ditch needs annual maintenance to remove all the sediment that deposits in it (because the downtream control at the half-blocked bridge together with the now much increased cross-sectional area causes deep, slow flow upstream). At this stage, many will say "oh, but this is the type of stuff they will -or should?-  learn when they practice engineering!" Well no, I don't think so: my experience of many years teaching real-world engineers in continuing education programs is that most normal people (meaning, not geniuses) cannot jump on their own from learning math games about critical and uniform flow to understanding real hydraulics... in other words, running HEC-RAS hundreds of times won't teach you hydraulics, you should have been taught (and learned) the bases of it when you were an undergrad. If you did get that, then sure, you can build 'engineering judgment' as you approach more complex problems in your career (I did not, by the way; I had to teach myself hydraulics the first time I was assigned to teach it, at the tender age of 26; good thing I had Dingman's "Fluvial Hydrology" -original edition, as well as Henderson's textbook at hand… with the current ones I probably would not have learned much, as they cover way too much, without really explaining things).

    Another idea that comes to my mind when thinking about Bloom's levels, is that you cannot really "Apply" what you learned (real definition, as stated above, not "playing the same game with different numbers") if you don't "Comprehend" before, and are not able to at least "Analyze." Thus, levels 2, 3 and 4 really go hand in hand when assessing students in a way that they really show proficiency in "Applying."

    To summarize this first part: IMO, (i) the vast majority of assessments in engineering education are at Level 1 ("Remember"), no matter how complicated the procedure is that you are asking students to remember; (ii) this is not a good situation; most of our assessments should be at levels 2-3-4. In many cases the thre levels will be simultaneously required to solve a problem, because the student will need to Comprehend the concepts, and then Analize the new situation, and only if they are able to do this, then they will be able to Apply the Comprehended concepts, after Analysis, to the new situation.

    In my tests in a Hydraulics or a Hydrology class, there are typically 10 to 20 "base" points which are Level 1; the rest is all application (Levels 2-3-4), graduating questions from simpler applications to more complex ones. Again, when I say "application", it means that the situation is different than the one shown/solved in class (I don't do homework, as my evaluation is that it does not contribute in any way to real learning). My passing grade of C is >50, and >60 is a B, >70 an A, and >80 an A+. In each single quiz, test, final, there are a few students who get 10 or 20%, and there are also students who get 80 or 90, or even 100%; yes, I am not ashamed to use the scale. At the end of the term, there are always A+s as well as a few Fs, and everything in between. The questions only involve rectangles, circles, triangles and trapezoids; if more complex shapes are used, I give the necessary equations (for example, for A(y), P(y), b(y), etc, in Hydraulics). But you still need to understand the concepts, or you won't do well.


    Part 2: Why can't students apply Calculus?

    I'll try to make this part shorter... They cannot apply Calculus (or Statistics, or...) because there was no real learning! They were taught complicated procedures without a context, they "learned" (memorized, really) the procedures, and then they were asked to repeat them to other similar problems. This mostly requires the effort (time) to memorize procedures. Even a sapient donkey could probably do well, because all of this requires no thinking really, beyond a very basic level; discipline will be sufficient.

    Then, why is it that we expect that because students are able to pass this, then they will do well in engineering? And more importantly in the context of this discussion, how realistic is it at all to require that students "be able to apply knowledge of mathematics through differential equations?" Well, it is not! Engineering essentially has to do with understanding (comprehending, visualizing, feeling, etc) how things work, and then having the ability to design things that work even better (or cheaply, or with less environmental/socio-cultural impacts, or more safely, etc., or all of those things together). Teaching and assessing procedures at Level 1 ("Remember") will not be helpful towards this goal, except for some very few highly talented individuals, who will be able to "fill in."

    Below is a short "on the top of my head" outline of what I would do if I were requested to ensure that students can apply math (mainly Calculus) in Engineering situations. A few caveats, first: (i) we must recognize -as has been said in this discussion board- that most real-world engineering simply does not have situations that require the application of Calculus; (ii) I would always keep "scratch calculus completely and replace it with well-taught engineering courses" as a valid alternative: (iii) what really matters is not the ability to take derivatives of complicated functions or solve hard integrals; what is needed is the ability to realize which problems do require calculus (versus those which do not), and then, a much more complicated skill, at a much higher taxonomic level: the ability to couch a physical or engineering problem/situation in mathematical terms, so that it can then be solved (maybe hiring a mathematician, if the resulting partial differential equation or integral is too complicated....). Note here that very few students, if any, are able to do this.

    The way we teach calculus certainly does not help at all with "what really matters," because: (i) it is taught at the very beginning of CE programs, (ii) it is taught completely divorced from the actual applications, and (iii) it is taught as complicated games ("hoops"), favoring "complexity" (meaning, a really hard integral to solve) over understanding of how the concepts are applicable in the first place (which most mathematicians would not know anyway, unless they also happen to be an engineer...).

    What would I do if I were given the 18 credits that are devoted to Calculus in my program, in order to make sure students can "apply knowledge of..."? I am rubbing my hands, already! 18 credits is equivalent to 252 hours of direct teaching... that's a lot of time...

    1. I would flip things over: instead of starting with differential calc, and then integral, and so on, the first class would start by qualitatively showing why straight lines and usual algebra cannot help us solve some problems, but differential equations are required instead (note that solving diff eqtns may be pretty hard, but couching them in the first place should not be, if you know how to explain basic physical concepts).

    and

    2. I would mix the math with the physical visualization of what is going on, without introducing the former until the latter is fully understood (again... real learning, Level 3, "Apply" as defined above in part 1). This "Engineering problem solving" class (or something along those lines) would analyze in depth situations like a tank with a hole at the bottom, in which the rate of emptying (rate of outflow), Qout, is functionally related to the water depth in the tank, h. When I say "in depth", I mean it! This would not presented "quick-quick-I'm busy" over a 55-min period; it would be developed over 2-3 weeks, including all the required physical concepts (conservation of mass in the tank, potential gravitational energy vs. potential pressure energy, conservation of energy, etc.). A solution would be sought for different functional relations Qout(h), before focussing on the correct one (from conservation of energy: Qout is proportional to the square root of h).
    This would be repeated for different problems and materials, covering topics from basic physics (like velocity-travelled distance) as well as engineering (such as my example with the emptying tank, or maybe consolidation to use a geotech example). The main goal of the class would be for students to understand why calculus is needed in the first place, and to be able to differentiate which problems call for it (or not). The class would simultaneously introduce a range of CE applications, definitions, and concepts, so that freshmen can start appreciating how broad (and interesting!) CE is, complementing the typical 1st year CE intro class based on experiments and data. At the end of the class, the students would physically understand concepts such as derivative (rate of change) and integral (total time needed to empty that tank), qualitatively, as well as why the equation governing these systems must be differential (basically, again, clear understanding of why algebra won't help us), BEFORE having had the formal definitions of derivative as a limit, etc...., and BEFORE being able to solve using Calculus (but they would have solved each problem quantitatively using some numerical approximation)

    3.The following courses would probably mirror Calc I + II, Calc III, and diff eqtns, but contents would be slashed, in terms of "mathematically complex games", in favor of applications. All concepts would be taught immersed in some actual physics or engineering situation. There would be constant focus on teaching first how the situation can be couched in mathematical terms, before looking at the "mathematical solution." It would be stressed that if you don't know how to couch your problem, you can memorize Abramovitz and Stegun if you want (or Gradshteyn and Ryzhik, if you are more "hardcore") but it won't be helpful because you will probably be solving the wrong integral in the first place...

    4. Almost needless to say, these courses would have to be taught by engineering faculty with interest in mathematics (meaning, with interest in teaching how calculus is needed to solve some classes of engineering problems.)

    5. One could also think about introducing basic notions of numerical calculus (aka numerical analysis) throughout this sequence of courses. For example, in the first course, in the example of the emptying tank, one could solve assuming linearity over short time steps delta t, and show how in the limit (when taking shorter and shorter time steps), one can basically reproduce the solution from calculus with a simple excel spreadsheet.

    Again, this is highly preliminary but it condenses many ideas that have been floating in my mind since I was an undergraduate student. I had a whopping 765 hours of direct teaching in math: 85 hours of Algebra, 85 hours of Linear Algebra, 340 hours of Calculus I through IV - yes, with Fourier transforms and Sturm-Liouville problems, whatever that is..., 85 hours of ordinary differential equations, 85 hours of numerical calculus, and 85 hours of probabilty and statistics.... and I survived! But did I learn anything that I then used as a consulting engineer? Or even as a CE faculty member with 30 yr experience? Very little, if you ask me... a very poor return on the investment of what here would be 3 full semesters of mathematics... (in Chile we had five 5-hr per week courses per 17-week semester, so it actually was almost a full year of my life…)

    ------------------------------
    Claudio Meier Ph.D., Ing., M.ASCE
    Associate Professor of Civil Engineering
    University of Memphis
    Memphis TN
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  • 8.  RE: _4. ... apply knowledge of mathematics...

    Posted 06-05-2021 12:49 PM
    Thank you, Dr. Meier, for sharing your perspectives and personal experiences as a student and instructor on application of calculus to engineering problems.  The experiences that you describe, and the suggestions that you provide for new approaches to applications of calculus in civil engineering education will help inform revision of the Commentary for the Civil Engineering Program Criteria.  Moreover, your comments will be read with interest by visitors to this Forum.  Your thoughtful contribution is appreciated by the CEPC Task Committee.

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    David Dzombak, PhD, PE, Dist.M.ASCE
    Hamerschlag University Professor and Dept Head
    Dept of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    Carnegie Mellon University
    Pittsburgh, PA 15213
    [email protected]
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: _4. ... apply knowledge of mathematics...

    Posted 06-21-2021 02:06 PM
    I have another perspective on the "basic" versus "natural" science issue. It seems like this is at least the second time you are proposing to switch back and forth between basic and natural science. The last time you switched from "natural" back to "basic" the rationale was to be consistent with ABET terminology and definitions. I would like to know why you now decide it is more appropriate to be consistent with CEBOK3 rather than ABET criteria. I am getting whiplash from the waffling back and forth, not to mention the need to synchronize our curriculum with these criteria.

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    John Ivan P.E., M.ASCE
    PROFESSOR
    Univ Of Connecticut
    Storrs Mansfield CT
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  • 10.  RE: _4. ... apply knowledge of mathematics...

    Posted 06-21-2021 11:44 PM
    Professor Ivan,

    Thanks for your contributions to this discussion.  This is certainly a valid issue, but before we can discuss it, we need to ensure that we have the facts straight.

    I can find no evidence that the term "natural science" has ever been used in any CE Program Criteria (at least not for the past two decades).  I certainly might be wrong, but I don't think your claim that "this is at least the second time [we] are proposing to switch back and forth between basic and natural science" is correct.  If you have any documentation that "natural science" has been used previously, I'll be happy to admit my error.

    Having said that, I agree that the issue of using "natural" vs. "basic" is worth a careful reconsideration by the Task Committee.  Given that the terms are essentially synonymous, there's certainly a good case for just sticking with "basic."  (If the change is essentially inconsequential, then why make it?)

    ------------------------------
    Stephen Ressler Ph.D., P.E., Dist.M.ASCE
    Professor Emeritus
    Bethlehem PA
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: _4. ... apply knowledge of mathematics...

    Posted 12 days ago
    I would like to propose that we completely remove the requirement for a natural (or basic) science.  While taking such a course clearly has relevance in theory, it is increasingly apparent that this requirement feels like an appendage to the students and to many faculty, not a vital, integrated component -- for many students, it is feeling as random as if we were requiring a course in virtually any other topic. Despite best efforts by programs to get their students into relevant natural science courses, many students flock to take a simple introductory course (in geology, for example), and often they are left taking whatever happens to be available.  Natural science topics are of course important, but so are a myriad of other courses, both technical and not technical.  Also, the fact that in this thread -- and in many discussions I have had -- there is so much disagreement about how to address this requirement speaks to its unnecessary restrictiveness. Thus, I wanted to ask whether the time for retaining this requirement may be long past.  Allowing programs to add an additional technical elective or general elective may be very valuable for all involved, including giving the programs the freedom to choose.

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    Jerome Hajjar Ph.D., P.E., F.SEI, F.ASCE
    CDM Smith Professor and Department Chair
    Northeastern University
    Boston MA
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  • 12.  RE: _4. ... apply knowledge of mathematics...

    Posted 11 days ago
    Thank you, Prof. Hajjar, for your thoughtful suggestion that the CEPC Task Committee reconsider the requirement for including in the curriculum substantive exposure to a natural science in addition to physics and chemistry.  While meeting this criterion does not necessarily require a separate course, in practice most programs require a separate course for the additional natural science.  The CEBOK3 identifies a range of disciplines that qualify as natural science.  Nevertheless your perspective about the prescriptive nature of this requirement, and how it is implemented in practice, merits some further consideration by the CEPC Task Committee.

    ------------------------------
    David Dzombak, PhD, PE, Dist.M.ASCE
    Hamerschlag University Professor and Dept Head
    Dept of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    Carnegie Mellon University
    Pittsburgh, PA 15213
    [email protected]
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: _4. ... apply knowledge of mathematics...

    Posted 11 days ago
    I agree with Jerry 100 %.  In our ASEE paper (Delatte, N., & Barry, B. E., & Morse, A. N., & Saviz, C. M. (2019, June), Department Head Perspectives on the Current CEPC and the BOK3 Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2-32584) we found that the additional area of basic science ranked dead last in Importance to Civil Engineering Education (figure 17).  Overall, the new proposed criteria add a lot without subtracting anything, and I believe this is a worthy subtraction.  In my experience as a PEV it is ALWAYS interpreted as a requirement for a course in Geology, Biology, or similar.  With our constrained curricula, if we are going to add something (e.g. numerical methods) something needs to come out.

    ------------------------------
    Norbert Delatte Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE
    Professor and Head
    Stillwater OK
    [Phone]
    [email protected]
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: _4. ... apply knowledge of mathematics...

    Posted 11 days ago
    Norb and Jerry-
    Thanks for your suggestion.  I believe is worthy of strong consideration by the Committee; personally, I agree with the it.

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    Jay Puckett P.E., F.ASCE
    Director
    University of Nebraska
    Omaha NE
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  • 15.  RE: _4. ... apply knowledge of mathematics...

    Posted 4 days ago
    I would like to put in a good word for including natural (or basic) science in the CEPC.

    It is highly likely that our students will work on multidisciplinary teams in their careers as practicing engineers, researchers, policy makers, etc.  Understanding applications of natural (or basic) science, learning how scientists (vs engineers) speak and think, and learning how to work with non-engineers are all skills relevant to their careers.  Additionally, many emerging areas (e.g., biomimicry, bioremediation) have a strong basis in the sciences.

    Some practical considerations:
    • This requirement does not imply that the student needs to take a course in a topic area; just that they have coverage of that topic
    • At our relatively small school, engineers make up a large portion of class enrollments in Math and Science courses.  That gives us leverage when asking for changes!    Persistent communication and collaboration can pay off.   For example:
      • It used to be a scheduling nightmare to get our students into the 5-unit General Chem course (with 2 labs per week!) .  Everyone was miserable:  the Chem faculty had too many labs to cover, students didn't want to take 2 labs per week, the course is principally designed for the pre-med/health majors, etc.   We worked with our colleagues in Chemistry to create a 4-unit class targeting engineers. The new class focuses on applications and has only 1 lab per week. This new CHEM class also helped the Chemistry Dept make a case for a new faculty line, which made them very happy to collaborate. 
      • Our colleagues in the Geosciences have been willing partners in identifying courses that can be of interest to our engineering students.  They have a small program, so with enrollment of engineering students, they are able to offer the upper division courses that also serve their own majors.   
    • As other posts have noted, the CEPC does not require students to take 1 course in Statics + 1 course in Dynamics + 1 course in Fluids, etc.   (although it pains me to say so!).    Perhaps we should consider our curricula and see where we can add flexibility for technical electives. 

    Many thanks to the CEPCTC members and corresponding members for all your work and to all who have been posting on this Collaborate site.  It is absolutely clear that people care deeply about our profession and our students.

    ------------------------------
    Camilla Saviz Ph.D., P.E., ENV SP, F.ASCE
    Professor
    Stockton CA
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  • 16.  RE: _4. ... apply knowledge of mathematics...

    Posted 4 days ago
    I totally agree with Camilla on this. And I also thank all commenters.

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    Charles Haas F.ASCE
    LD Betz Professor of Environ. Eng. & Department Head - Civil, Architectural and Environmental Eng.
    Philadelphia PA
    [email protected]
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  • 17.  RE: _4. ... apply knowledge of mathematics...

    Posted 3 days ago
    Thanks, Camilla, for your thoughtful contribution to this. I agree with you. I would add that I am seeing other engineering disciplines adding a third science to their curriculum these days. It seems most are doing so while sacrificing breadth of coverage in physics or chemistry. I'm uncertain I would advise this, but believe we see a greater need for good foundational breadth in natural/basic science. Frankly, in my experience, student understanding of even basic biology or geology is not great, so the intro classes do not trouble me. That said, I think the committee can have a fruitful discussion about how this need for breadth in science may be emphasized, and certainly we do recognize that CE programs feel crowded in our curricula.

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    Kevin G. Sutterer, P.E., Ph.D.
    Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
    Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
    Terre Haute, Indiana
    ------------------------------