ABET Civil Engineering Program Criteria Draft

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17. General Comments

  • 1.  17. General Comments

    Posted 04-29-2021 03:20 PM

    Please reply to this discussion to provide general comments, suggestions, etc. that are related to multiple or span across criterion phrases.  This discussion may also be used to provide your comments, suggestions, etc. about items or issues that are completely missing from the draft program criteria.

  • 2.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 05-26-2021 11:23 AM
    Several of the proposed criteria contain the word "formulate" and as many commenters have indicated, students don't generally "formulate" a problem, they are given a problem to solve or a situation to address. Much of the practice of engineering is solving a problem that exists, not "formulating" one. There seems to be enough concern about the inclusion of "formulate" in the criteria that the terminology should either be eliminated or a more descriptive word used.

    Glenn Rehberger P.E., M.ASCE
    Vice President
    Williamsburg VA

  • 3.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 05-26-2021 12:41 PM
    Mr Rehberger,  thanks very much for your comments--and for your contribution to this discussion.  The Task Committee will definitely consider your concerns about the use of the term "formulate."

     My personal view is that the use of  "formulate" is not problematic in this context--for two reasons:

    (1) It's important to recognize that 
    all of the curriculum provisions listed in these proposed Program Criteria are preceded by the phrase "The curriculum must include topics necessary to..."  So the requirement is to include curriculum topics about problem formulation--not to require that students actually do it.  We can debate whether or not practicing engineers are involved in problem formulation (I believe they are--see below); but this provision only requires that students learn about problem formulation--which seems to me an important topic, regardless of whether a given practitioner is actually doing it.

    (2) The international standard for engineering education (as specified by the International Engineering Alliance) specifies explicitly that the graduates of undergraduate engineering programs must be able to "Identify, formulate, research literature, and analyze complex engineering problems..."  ABET is a signatory to the international agreement that adopted these standards--so the ABET Criteria are required to be consistent with them.  In this context, formulating an engineering problem entails activities like assisting a client with identifying the need, defining the problem, identifying specific requirements and constraints--activities that seem to be well within the scope of many engineers' responsibilities.

    To some extent, this might be a semantic issue.  And because these sorts of semantic issues are common in engineering accreditation, ASCE develops a Commentary document to accompany its criteria--to ensure that there is a common understanding of these sorts of definitional issues.  We will certainly be addressing the word "formulate" in this Commentary, as it's particularly prone to misinterpretation.

    Thanks again,

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

  • 4.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 05-26-2021 01:15 PM
    I don't want to spoil the party here, but every time I work on ABET accreditation things, program criteria, and the like, the following two ideas recurrently hit me. In my defense, I must state that I know how CE academic programs are structured in the US, in Chile (very well; 4 yrs BSCE + 3 semesters professional coursework + 9 months thesis), and in a few European countries (that have the 3 + 2 years system), and I have attempted to teach Civil Engineering for exactly 30 years (hydraulics, intro engrg hydrology, open-channel flow, environmental science + graduate courses in physical hydrology, engrgr hydrology, river geomorphology, ecohydraulics and ecohydrology, and a series of inter- or even transdisciplinary grad courses).

    1. The vast majority of CE students and graduates -even bright ones- do not know how to apply calculus to even the most simple real-world situations. They have had at least Calc I through III, differential equations, calc-based physics, and in some cases numerical calculus (aka numerical analysis), Calc IV, etc., but it's all been about "playing games with the math folks." Basically, they have learned definitions and procedures by heart, and have been able to successfully regurgitate them during assessments. How can we assess, as engineering faculty, that "they can apply knowledge of mathematics through differential equations...."? By having them compute the area enclosed under a straight (or, God forbid, a quadratic) line?  (or read below a not-so-good example from a very common hydraulics textbook)

    An example of this: one of the first and most basic concepts taught in Calc II is that of the mean of a function, obtained as the area under the function between a and b, divided by the distance (b-a). Do students really learn this concept in Math? Yes? Then, why is it that when I give them a continuous time series of discharge, sampled every 15 minutes (say, values at 10:00, 10:15, 10:30, 10:45, and 11:00), and ask them to compute the mean hourly discharge between 10 and 11, they inevitably think that they must add the 5 values and divide by 5? Nobody ever realizes that the first (at 10:00) and last (at 11:00) values must be weighed by 1/2, and only the occasional, brightest student in the class, realizes that a key aspect to understand whether such mean is accurate or not relates to the frequency at which the actual process fluctuates (i.e., if streamflow goes up and down like crazy, every 3 minutes, then it is obviously useless to sample the signal once every 15 minutes, and those data should not be used to attempt to compute a mean at all... and, thinking like an engineer, you should install a new sensor that samples at least once per minute!). The last aspects that I mention are those that really matter, not "only knowing how to compute the integral of f(x) from a to b" - no matter how complicated f(x) is! Heck: even though hydrology textbooks insist on having functions i(t), Q(t), etc. (for rainfall intensity and streamflow, respectively), and applying linear systems theory and calculus, the fact is that there are no analytical expressions for intensity in real rainfall events: we only have the actual, measured data (totalized every 15 minutes in the US, every 1 min in Europe)!

    Another example: when teaching how to delineate a watershed in hydrology, I need my students to understand what a "saddle" is (topographically speaking). When I say "understand," I mean visualize, recognize, being able to draw one, being able to tell me a story about it ("we climbed the trail along Sad Creek valley, until we finally hit the pass, between the two peaks; we stopped and took pictures of both alpine valleys with their meadows"; yes, that's the way I explain what a saddle is, and that's the way they understand). Guess what: this exact same concept is "taught" in every single Calc III class, but can students visualize what it actually is?

    The question is: Why this state of affairs? The answer I propose is: because there has not been any real learning! They have just learned to jump through the hoops that differential and integral calculus instructors have thrown at them, but they can't apply it, not even to exceedingly simple real-world situations. They have drowned in equations and methods, learnt procedural "hoops," repeated them multiple times (if they are "good" students and they actually study), but they still don't know or understand anything new (or much useful, for that matter), beyond such procedures! How good is this for the actual education of Civil Engineers? You also know what my answer is here...

    In my mind, there are only two solutions to this:

    (i) Stop playing the proverbial ostrich, realize what I stated above, and basically dump calculus (or most of it) from engineering curricula, which would give us more time to teach engineering concepts the right way (see comment 2 below), or else
    (ii) Have engineering faculty interested in math teach these courses, cut the material pretty drastically, and teach it exclusively with applications, so it makes sense. That way we would also motivate students, as they typically see very little actual engineering concepts and applications in their first couple of years in school. Taught this way, there would be a chance that Calc concepts would actually stick, and then in hydrology, when I teach flow through porous media, students would hopefully understand why it is that "you need to apply calculus to understand how long it takes the Brita filter to empty, because the head is continuously decreasing as more water is being filtered".

    Note that the same thing should happen with Statistics and Probability, wherever it is still taught to CE students by mathematicians.

    2. In the US, are Civil Engineers considered to be technicians or higher (i.e., thinking) professionals? This is an important and profound question, with important consequences. Because if one teaches the first, then rote teaching and repetition of procedures are good enough (even if no one understands why they are doing it, how it actually works, when it doesn't work, what are the assumptions behind it, why they would expect the 'method' not to work in a specific case, and a long list of etceteras...).

    Good examples of what I just described are: (i) the typical way that Calculus classes are assessed, (ii) giving students an exercise in class, then repeating the same exercise in the homework (but with different numbers!), and then repeating it again in the test (with different numbers again... see? "it is a different exercise if the numbers are different, right?"), and (iii) books with dozens of repetitive exercises, like those Schaum series. When I explain to my students how I teach and how I assess, I tell them that the typical way is like the "apples and the oranges:" You learn to juggle with 3 apples, but are told "oh wait! the exam is going to be different!" and you get a bit scared... You then show up for the exam and are given 3 oranges (and of the same diameter as the original apples, to make it even simpler...")!!

    In my mind, learning rote procedures is good for technicians, not for engineers; when I assess my students, they must be able to apply to different situations! They also must be able to realize when their answer is "off," i.e., have a notion of the expected order of magnitude or "back of the envelope" value for their result. When dealing with more complicated problems (I'm not using the word "complex" here, not to open the can of worms that is the definition of "complex engineering problems;" maybe will leave that for another comment on some other day), they must have the ability to find lower and upper bounds, etc.

    But if our internal definition of an "engineer" is that of a "higher profession" (I'm lacking better words, here), then teaching actual concepts -and making sure in your assessments that students really understand them- should be the norm. This implies a whole lot more: First, the faculty would need to truly understand before teaching (versus "just knowing the procedure or method"), and in class they would have to: (i) give context for the material (why does it matter, where do we actually use this, etc.), (ii) actually explain it (real explanations, with analogies, with feedback from students to make sure they are truly understanding instead of just nodding, with random deeper questions, etc.), (iii) clearly emphasize things like orders of magnitude ("no, it cannot rain 42,300 inches during a storm"), typical units and USCS/SI conversions (with actual visualization of these units, as it seems this is not taught in grade school; many students have no clue what 1 m3 is, or what a liter is, so that they very easily say things like: 1 L = 1000 m3 in the tests -even tough I list conversions!, because they have no feel whatsoever for the units), typical applications, typical mistakes/misunderstandings, assumptions that need to hold, cases in which it would be a bad idea to apply a specific concept or method, etc.

    Most importantly, assessments would not be based on rote repetition either, but would focus on testing whether students truly understand the concepts, not only the basic procedures!

    If hydraulics and hydrology textbooks were written following these notions, they would contain 5 times less "methods" and "procedures", but a whole lot more explanation, and we would not have the typical problem (attempting to use calculus in hydraulics) of a "laminar flow profile in a 1 m diameter pipe with water going 2 m/s, " because it is immediately clear that in such case the flow would have a Reynolds in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, and the flow would be absolutely turbulent, and never laminar ("oh... but shoot... it is harder to integrate a turbulent flow profile than a laminar one, so this wouldn't serve to tick the box that says "yes, they did apply calculus in higher engineering courses," and then "Passed: more than 70% of the sample performed above adequate" - sorry that I am being sarcastic here). Such textbooks would, e.g., actually explain what a hydraulic radius is, with visualizations and stories about what it represents ("kind of a mean distance to the nearest wall"), why it was a needed concept in the first place, etc. instead of just writing Rh = A/P. Same thing for kinematic viscosity, for runoff coefficient, etc... Engineers must understand concepts in depth (again: real learning), before applying them and using pre-packaged modelling softwares and designing! Now, how do you teach "real-learning hydraulics" in 42 hours, of which 6 or 7 are for the quizzes and tests… that's tough…

    If you found this stub of a discussion interesting, the best article I have read that touches on these issues (but coming from a  different perspective) is "Plug and Chug, Cram and Flush," by David Bella, 2003, ASCE Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice, 129(1). With so much past and ongoing research on "engineering education," it just beats me that this excellent piece of work, that elegantly identifies so many critical aspects of the way we teach engineers, has only been cited 18 times in almost 20 years...

    Now, to conclude my rambling remarks, the million-dollar question: how do you do all of these things in only 4 years, with 42-hours courses, of which about a third to 40% are Gen-Ed and other non-engineering classes? That is something that I wish the criteria would tell us, beyond asking us to keep adding more and more things to the CE curriculum, when we don't even have time to teach the CE part of it, at least in the depth we should...

    Claudio Meier Ph.D., Ing., M.ASCE
    Associate Professor of Civil Engineering
    University of Memphis


  • 5.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 05-26-2021 05:30 PM
    A lot to digest there, and I agree there is a real problem with the concept of plug-and-chug teaching.   Here are some additional reflections on many of the points you raise.
    1) This problem in the United States begins well before college.  Schools are assessed based on standardized testing, which means much of the instruction is not in critical thinking, but "teaching to the test".  Students are conditioned to this environment.
    2) My anecdotal experience with student attitudes is they see college as a means to an end.  Just get a degree so they can get a job.  Learning has been devalued, while grades have been emphasized.
    3) Cheating is ubiquitous, even among 'good' students.  Cheating has always existed, but technology has made it so easy, that everyone can (and usually does) do it.  They email solutions and spreadsheets to each other, from previous years or from classmates in the same class.  The solutions to virtually every textbook are available online, and if a professor creates his/her own problems, they are immediately uploaded to a site like Chegg, where someone solves it and posts the solution.  Students even do this on exams.  By the way, this is something they learned in elementary, middle, and high school.   And the reality is they don't see that it's a problem.  I compare it to speeding.  Virtually everyone speeds, if only a little bit because we won't get a ticket as long as we don't do it excessively.  Since students rarely get caught, it's accepted practice.  And since students view homework as just something that you do for a grade, rather than something done to learn, then it doesn't matter.
    4) The issue with calculus is a problem because students view calculus as something they just need to get done, and they will never have to think about again.  And to a certain extent, they are correct.   When you and I learned Manning's equation, you needed to use a Newton-Raphson approximation to solve for uniform depth.   Now their programmable calculators or spreadsheets will find a solution instantly.    I certainly don't teach Newton-Raphson solutions, but I do teach them how to use GoalSeek or Solver in Excel, because that's what they will be using as practicing engineers. When I do try to teach the USGS method for determining flow rates based on multiple velocity measurements at a cross-section (similar to your time-series example), I think very few of them understand the connection between adding together area-weighted discrete flows and the same concepts of finding an area under a curve they were taught in calculus, or even the connection to centroids they learned in Statics.
    5)  Similar to my comment #4, technology has changed the need for skills that were taught before since so much engineering today is done using computer programs.  The days of etching out solutions on pages of engineering paper are dwindling.   I think a lot of schools are moving away from coding and programming as part of a CE curriculum.   Some programs might teach some programming like MathCAD or VisualBasic, but I don't think it's a fundamental part of the curriculum.  The reason, of course, is that most engineers never do any coding anymore.   But programming and coding are how students can learn problem-solving.   Developing solution flow charts is an excellent way to teach students how to think about problems as more than just a set of linear steps to find a solution.​   One of the primary questions students ask me when they are struggling with a problem is "What equation am I supposed to use?"   I tell them engineering isn't paint-by-numbers. They just think the solution is to be given the equation so they can substitute in numbers for the variables, and get an answer.  I can do that with a paint-by-numbers kit, but it doesn't make me a painter.
    6) Students very often will destroy professors in course evaluations if courses aren't taught the way they are used to.  I don't know how many times I've read "the test problems were nothing like the homework" as a reason for a poor student evaluation.  Truth is, the problems were very similar, but since they aren't 'working' through homework problems, they can't even identify the similarities.

    Timothy Murphy P.E., M.ASCE
    Trine University
    Angola IN

  • 6.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 05-26-2021 06:33 PM

    Thanks for reading, and for your comments, Timothy. Some further comments about some of the aspects you mention, keeping your numbering:

    1. You say "The problem starts before college, and persists afterwards..." Well, I don't know how many times I've been told "you skipped this material in your hydrology class, even though it's part of the FE exam!" Well, yes, I could include all they want, but then would certainly not have enough time to explain any of it decently, or assess it. IDK if I'm from another planet, but why would a multiple-choice exam that focusses strictly on procedural aspects dictate how you teach basic civil engineering concepts?

    Example: Understanding the rational method, and when it is applicable or not, requires students to know a lot more than just Q = C i A. But seemingly, according to these standardized tests and the textbooks, if you know how to compute an areally-weighted C and know the method should not be applied to areas larger than x acres, then you're good to go! This is so, even though any person knowing hydrology realizes that the explicit location of different types of surfaces within a watershed can strongly affect its response (connectivity, partial area effects, etc), and this is the type of knowledge that is basically "negated" when computing an areally-weighted C. To make things worse, they typically: (i) say that it is an empirical model, even though it has a very strong physical basis (as Qmax = i A in the case of a fully impervious surface, for a constant intensity storm lasting longer than the time of concentration), (ii) call C a "runoff coefficient" even though it is not (it is a ratio between max discharges for the above case, when comparing real-world surfaces to the equivalent "teflon watershed" case), and then (iii) also use the term "time of concentration" in the context of unit hydrographs, where it means something wholly different (it's a basin lag time; steady-state makes no sense in larger basins).

    2), 3), 4), 5) Fully agreed, even though in (2), I sense that when they are given "real teaching," many students rise to the occasion, and get actually excited about learning more, and really understanding. Regarding (3), yes. I was never a fan of homework, but now I just don't assign it anymore as it all comes from Chegg or else "the good student in the class who happens to be my buddy." You grade one and you've graded them all! I went for quizzes... (4) As I said above, I think there would be value in teaching Calculus, but immersed in a real-world context of engineering problems, and focussing much more on how to "correctly couch the physical situation into an equation" instead of having them solve an integral by applying the "by parts" method three times in a row... Also, students should realize that many times, there is no f(x) and g(t), but actual data, that behave the way they want, but certainly not following some predetermined mathematical function! (5) I like your "paint-by-the-numbers" analogy... Learning to think about problems (what's the problem in the first place? what do I know? what do I need to know? is it open-ended? could it be that there is no solution? could there be multiple solutions?, even though it is a complicated problem can I find upper and lower bounds?, etc) takes exactly that: thinking. Can't do it if you only memorized an equation or procedure, no matter how complicated the procedure is... Teaching engineering should strongly focus on this type of skills (vs preparing for the multiple-choice questions on areally-weighted C values to decide "whether you know hydrology or not"). Note that IMO, an average student cannot be expected to acquire these kinds of skills, if the material is not taught critically, focussing on real learning (vs. "the hoops"). Because of this, I simply cannot believe the contrast between teaching engineering students as if they were technicians, and then the criteria requesting that they solve "complex engineering problems" (and this is true even for ABET's "watered-down" version of what a CEP is, as compared to the original definition in the Washington Accord). Engineers are not technicians!

    6) Yes, I found this the hard way! Hahaha... Now, to prepare my students to the way I assess, I give them an actual example of what I mean by "assessing," on the first day of class: I tell them that I will teach them about precipitation depth and intensity, and how to compute storm volumes, etc. I then explain a very simple example (say, a sprinkler applying a known total volume of water over a known circular area, and we compute "rainfall" depth, mean intensity, etc.). Then, I show them a quiz question in which the setup is completely different (say, there is a single slope roof without a gutter, and under it is a bathtub, part of which is covered by the roof, part of which is not covered by the roof. I tell them the rainfall depth for the storm event and then ask them "how much water will the tub collect?", and "by how much will it go up?"). This is real assessment of the ability of students for applying the basic concepts that any civil engineer should understand: they need to apply them to a different situation, they must be able to visualize what the new situation is and how it differs (the setup, not the concepts!) from the case studied in class. That is what engineering is all about! (or maybe "should be about"?)

    Thanks again for commenting.

    Claudio Meier Ph.D., Ing., M.ASCE
    Associate Professor of Civil Engineering
    University of Memphis
    Memphis TN

  • 7.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 05-28-2021 03:16 PM
    I'm certainly on board with much of what you say Prof. Meier, but I also support teaching methods and steps as important too.  Yes, we hope our students can understand what the methodologies actually mean, rather than how to just apply them.   But the reality is many engineering problems require following steps and methodologies that are codified, and students need to learn how to follow these.   Ultimately a reviewing agency is going to want solutions presented in such a way that they can check the results (e.g. the TR-55 worksheet).  So I personally have no issue with trying to teach both ways, with the understanding (or hope) that if students didn't quite understand the concepts as students, some understanding will come through experience of applying the methods as working engineers.  It wasn't until I started working as a consultant that I truly began to understand the difference between impervious area and directly connected impervious area, but I understood enough as an undergraduate to get the 'basic idea' of the relationship between imperviousness and runoff.   So I know students won't understand everything, because I know didn't, but there's no reason not to evaluate them on their ability to follow a set of prescribed steps.  I think there is value in that.

    Timothy Murphy P.E., M.ASCE
    Trine University
    Angola IN

  • 8.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 05-29-2021 01:28 PM
    These are all great comments. From a fellow educator, a my quick thoughts:

    1) Agree. It can only be address by K-12, higher education, and the workforce communicating and collaborating together. Right now we really operate as three different communities when really we are are all intersect to drive economic productivity and the improvement of the human condition. It is imperative throughout this ABET EAC review process that everyone reflects on why we do this. There must be sound rationale for what we do in higher education. It extends beyond just ASCE and ABET.

    2) This is a topic of discussion in EdD programs... "What is the purpose of education?" If you get 10 educators with different backgrounds in the same room to debate this question, there will probably be more disagreement than agreement. For some context, in preparing for my dissertation study I searched my state's department of education for definition of "grade", hoping to find a clear definition for grade as a score and grade as a level. There is none. It was suggested to me to use the Merriam-Webster definition. US department of education does not have one either as it defers almost everything to the states. I think this simple example gives a sense of condition of education... it is not as clearly defined behind the scene as we are lead to believe when we experience it as students. In the defense of students, many want good jobs to improve their socioeconomic status in life. Education is the barrier they have to overcome to get access to those jobs. If educators don't construct some other value for education, then students only see it as a something the have to do. This problem is really the fault of educators if we honest with ourselves. I do agree grades are overemphasized. Practical, usable knowledge is underemphasized too.

    3) Based on my reading in education textbooks and literature, this problem has been primarily by educators' resistance to adapt to operating in the information society we live in now as an opposed to the industrial society we used to live in many decades ago. If the curriculum emphasizes teaching specific technical knowledge and encourages classifying students according to ability, the product is most graduates being trained with a limited skillset and a handful emerging as having management potential. That is the industrial model. If the curriculum emphasizes teaching transferable 21st century skills, all graduate develop a skillset that can be used for a broad range of occupations and all student can learn shared leadership. This is the information model that we should be using. The information (Google, Chegg, old tests in the student chapter's file cabinet, etc.) is out there, will only proliferate, and cannot be stopped. From another perspective, open-access is the democratization of education. Knowledge doesn't belong anyone. Educators have to change their approach to teaching students how to responsibly use information, which requires a shift to teaching 21st century skills using alternative pedagogies like project-based learning, active learning, etc.

    4) I think the best solution is to teach math in the context of civil engineering problem. In practice, that involves reinforcing concepts students already learned in math courses when as they learning the civil engineering application in the major courses. It really is unrealistic to expect a student to apply math they learned their first year with no context and no reinforcement in subsequent courses to a civil engineering problem in their third or fourth year.

    5) Technology is the problem and the solution. Gen Z students have never lived in a world where the internet didn't exist. They use technology to solve any problem they have in life and in many cases, they've autodidactically taught themselves how to do it. They don't share the same exact perspectives as millennials, Gen X, and baby boomers. They are largely driving change in the world. Educators have to learn how to use technology to teach these students the same skills we learned from pedagogies that don't work anymore.

    6) Again, educators have to adapt. We need to reflect on if the ways we were taught are still effective for the students we are entrusted to teach.

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

  • 9.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 05-27-2021 06:04 AM
    Dr Meier (& also TJ [Professor Murphy formally so others realize I grant you deserved credit with the title but we know each other well enough that I write TJ]),

    Thank you for the detailed posts.  I read over & thought about your posts ... twice and will plan to print them out since I am old time enough that reading on a screen does not sink in too well.

    Civil engineering study (EAC ABET BS study) preparing thinking professionals or technicians seems to be a central question.  Does industry want or need more thinking professionals or technicians?

    About 10+ years ago, while on an ASCE committee looking into what at the time was referred to as the paraprofessional, a term later dropped, but for the most part meaning technicians, technologists, and possibly EAC ABET graduates who do not attain a PE, a comment/question at the first meeting stood out and basically is quite the same.  Is a PE really needed for much of what now (or then at the time 10 years ago) requires a PE stamp?   For a road repaving project or even some new road construction, is that really engineering, higher level work or application of codes and using  well established equations, equations typically identified in the codes or design manuals and certainly in textbooks?   The analogy stated before that committee was when many of us were young, a dentist actually cleaned our teeth.  A dentist now rarely would do that since a dental office often has several dental hygienist doing the routine cleaning work.

    Much of what both of you write resonates with my experiences.

    Thank you again,


    David Devine P.E., L.S., M.ASCE
    Fort Wayne IN

  • 10.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 05-27-2021 10:27 AM
    Dear Eng. Devine,

    Thanks for your comments; I concur with what you state, and now that you mention it, I recalled that a colleague had mentioned this ASCE committee's recommendations.

    My issue though, following up on your example, is that just as you cannot teach dentists and dental hygienists together (at least for the most "hardcore" courses in an odontology program), you cannot teach courses for civil engineers and engineering technicians together. I think a specific US issue is the fact that medical doctors (and dentists, veterinarians, etc) are graduate programs here, while CE is a bachelor's degree. Because of this, most people clearly understand why you can't have medical assistants studying alongside future doctors (in harsher terms, most people would agree with the notion that "not anyone can become a medical doctor"), but this becomes blurry in the case of engineers, sadly.

    In other words: Even if industry realizes that more technologists/technicians are needed than PEs, or that many tasks that require a PE are not that high in the cognitive taxonomy, these are certainly not excuses to water down the skills required to become an engineer, or the level of the teaching in engineering schools. I still teach my classes as if every one of my students will actually become a PE. Having said that, I fully agree that ASCE should revise what tasks actually require a PE stamp.

    I think it is a slippery slope if the expectations and learning goals in a structural engineering, CE hydraulics, or soil mechanics class are that "the students are able to repetitively do something adequately," versus "the students are able to understand and apply a basic concept." Technicians/technologists should do the first, while engineers the second. These things are separate career paths requiring very different skill sets. In most cases, doing something more and more will not teach you the theory (in the right sense of the word!) behind it. Unless you go back to grad school (or are very disciplined and talented to study on your own) once you are working in the real world, you are not going to get those concepts (either for the first time, or else straightened, if you happened to get them wrongly in school).

    I hope that this committee will consider these issues, keeping in mind the need for depth in the basic CE core knowledge, as we add much-needed criteria related to environmental, cultural, inclusivity/equity, global, etc. aspects. My opinion is that too much of such depth has been lost in the last few decades.

    Claudio Meier Ph.D., Ing., M.ASCE
    Associate Professor of Civil Engineering
    University of Memphis
    Memphis TN

  • 11.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 05-27-2021 10:59 AM
    Great discussion and good reading for the BOK4 group when it forms.

    I am a structural engineer with about 40 years experience in higher education, textbook author, and researcher dealing with AASHTO specifications where I regularly advise/present to technical committees.  Most of my practitioner associates who do significant structural engineering require a masters degree and prefer an undergraduate architectural engineering degree.  A masters typically has 8-9 courses taught at a higher level specifically in the subdiscipline.  (Most structural engineering is for buildings as that is where the volume is.)  This additional education is, in my opinion, necessary for engineering practice for structures of any significance, e.g., over two stories in wind-controlled areas.   Seismic requires a much deeper understanding of behavior avoid difficulties.  So in a sense there is a stratification of expertise required in our subdiscipline of CE.

    Having written that, much of the design process is market/cost driven.  Being a bridge engineer, many of our bridges can be selected from catalog solutions, very easy software dedicated to a type, etc.  The fees available reflect this reality ... and in the hydraulic design a simple HEC model is all that is "affordable" and a conservative scour model is acceptable.

    Again, in bridge practice (US), we simplify the 3-D system to a 1-D model by equations rather than actually model in 2- or 3-D.  in Europe, they do the analysis, i.e. engineering.  Equations given reasonable conservative results, and, no, most engineers do not understand the background in their development.

    At UNL, we are looking at the Mathematics curriculum from the ground up to see where we might provide more applications sooner in the curriculum.  Also discrete methods earlier in the curriculum.  It will likely take some aspect of team teaching which does not fit the MO of major research universities.

    Jay Puckett, PE, Phd, F.ASCE
    Durham School for Architectural Engineering and Construction

    Jay Puckett P.E., F.ASCE

  • 12.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 05-27-2021 11:20 AM
    On behalf of ASCE's Civil Engineering Program Criteria Task Committee (CEPCTC), I thank Professor Meier, Professor Murphy, and Mr. Devine for their thought-provoking comments in this discussion thread.  Certainly, rote learning that is divorced from application is unfortunate in any field, but especially in engineering.  I applaud the efforts described by the discussers to engage the students with clear, understandable applications.  There is much to be said for an engineering curriculum that is highly contextual and integrated.  The CEPCTC will consider these issues when preparing the next Commentary on the program criteria.

    I also agree that distinguishing the roles, and therefore the preparation, of engineers, technologists, and technicians is an issue that has eluded consensus, at least in the U.S.  Nevertheless, the intent of the recently published 3rd edition of the Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge (CEBOK3) was very explicit - it was to define "the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for entry into the practice of civil engineering at the professional level."  The CEBOK3 explicitly recognizes that the development of such an engineer depends on a combination of undergraduate education, post-graduate education, mentored experience, and self-development.  The CEPCTC has focused its efforts in developing the proposed Civil Engineering Program Criteria so they will, when combined with the ABET General Criteria for Baccalaureate Programs, substantially align with the undergraduate educational component envisioned in the CEBOK3 for the preparation of civil engineers.

    I think we can all agree with Mr. Devine that there are many activities, such as his posited repaving project, that may not need the services of an experienced engineer.  However, I respectfully suggest that each engineer is better prepared for highway design and construction after completing such a repaving assignment.  Mentored experience is a crucial developmental component envisioned in the CEBOK3 but, of course, beyond the scope of the CEPCTC.

    Wayne Bergstrom Ph.D., P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE
    Principal Engineer
    Bechtel Corp
    Reston VA

  • 13.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 05-28-2021 04:05 PM
    There is a lot in this post that resonated with me. Some background about me since this is my first post and so that my biases are exposed off the bat... My civil engineering degrees are from the same ABET EAC accredited R1, I did experimental laboratory research for my master's thesis, after graduate school I worked for two Departments of Transportation for a total of about 5 years, I have one PE license, I've just finished my 11th year teaching in higher education, I teach students to be problems solvers in their specialization and to create contextual solutions that are informed by their general education, I am currently studying in an EdD educational leadership program (57 out of 60 credits completed), and I have a family of 1 wife, 3 kids, and 2 dogs. We all can offer different perspectives based on our lived experience and mine is that of a relatively young and still learning professional that has been fortunate to have a good number of diverse experiences in both work and life in a short amount of time.

    I teach in a civil engineering technology department that has 3 ABET ETAC accredited programs. We offer a 4-year B.S. and a 2-year A.A.S. in civil engineering technology and a 2-year A.A.S. in surveying technology. We are located in Pennsylvania where state law requires a 4-year ABET accredited degree, an EIT certificate, and 4 years experience to sit for the PE exam. Our 4-year students are eligible to take the FE after completing 2 years of their curriculum although most that take it wait until at least their 7th semester. Our 4-year program requires differential calculus and integral calculus. Our college offers differential equations and vector calculus as electives and only a handful of our students take them if they pursue a math minor. Our students have the option of taking college physics (algebra and trig based) or general physics (calculus based); most probably take college physics. Our college is open enrollment because our primary mission is to support the workforce of Pennsylvania.

    Pennsylvania was among the top 5 states for number of civil engineers employed until recently replaced by Colorado, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Aside from curricular differences guided by ABET, EAC and ETAC graduates in the Pennsylvania workforce get the same jobs, do the same work, and follow the same timetable to professional licensure. A graduate of an ETAC 4-year program working in Pennsylvania follows the career trajectory of an engineer, not of a technologist. In the PennDOT district office where I worked, the civil engineers with PEs were about half from various EAC schools and half from the ETAC school I teach at. For all it's backwards practices, Pennsylvania is among the 20 forward thinking states that outright accept ETAC degrees for licensure. These 20 states, as reported by NSPE, include other large population states like California, New York, and Texas. Overall, ETAC graduates have a pathway to a PE in some form in 40 states, or 80% of the United States. It has always intrigued me that California, arguably the state with the most challenging engineering, population, and political conditions, accepts ETAC while other states with comparatively less challenging conditions do not (according to NSPE).

    We have talked within our department for years about the advantages and disadvantages for us to pursue ABET EAC for our existing 4-year civil engineering technology program. One of our college's values is student-centeredness. Our direction to go is stuck between having a degree that is universally accepted for licensure (EAC) or allowing any student that wants to pursue a career as a civil engineer at least a chance to try (ETAC). Both are student-centered approaches depending on one's perspective. For our graduates that stay in Pennsylvania, in real-world practice our ETAC degree provides the same exact career opportunities as that of an EAC degree with the main difference being our degree does not include coursework that does not have frequent or practical application our state's civil engineering workplace. We've heard from many employers that they like our graduates because they are ready to work day one because our program addresses practical applications.

    Admittedly, an EAC program for our student population could create challenges for many students because of courses like differential equations. There would be a real challenge to develop the math self-efficacy and proficiency of some of our students to an above calculus level. Probably more importantly, our students desire to see the real world application of what they are learning. Based on my work experience and that everyone in the civil engineering workforce that I have encountered, I cannot say to my students that differential equations or even calculus is used in typical real-world civil engineering applications, at least in a tangible, obvious, direct way. Yes it is important for understanding the development of the knowledge, yes it is why we have the equations to do practical work, yes it helps develop a problem solving brain, and yes someone out there uses it to develop computer applications or design guidance or design standards, but Gen Z students overall need to see the intrinsic value of what they are being expected to learn, or they will choose to learn something else. National Center for Education Statistics has been reporting that US college enrollment has dramatically declined and will be flat for the foreseeable future. There really needs to be some open, honest, and hard conversations had about what 21st century civil engineering education is and what the real differences are between EAC and ETAC with respect to the workforce that is served, and specifically in this particular initiative what EAC is. I think it comes down to this being the question of what do educators think our students should know vs. what does the workforce need our graduates to do. Both are important, but ultimately the workforce and the society it serves are what provides the justification for educators and students to exist and that is something that should be reflected on by all throughout this process.

    Again, I do not teach in an ABET EAC program but I consider my students, my institution, my state, and myself to be stakeholders in this process not limited reasons stated above. I am excited to contribute my perspectives and learn from my peers in academia and in professional practice through this conversation. I really do hope ASCE carefully listens to the practicing engineers and the state licensing boards that will eventually mentor and oversee the vast majority of academia's graduates, both EAC and ETAC.

    David Fedor

  • 14.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 05-28-2021 06:33 PM
    Mr. Fedor, thank you for your commitment to helping ASCE review the existing ABET Civil Engineering Program Criteria and your thoughts.  While you have presented a considerable amount of information, please know that it will be discussed by the Task Committee.  We are committed to considering our stakeholder input and thank you for providing yours.

    Herbert Raybourn P.E., M.ASCE
    Manager, Environmental Permitting Department
    Walt Disney World Resort
    Lake Buena Vista FL

  • 15.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 05-30-2021 03:24 AM
    To each and all:
    Would it be useful to first simply make a list of each and all keywords presented/discussed so far?

    Then, do a brief glossary of terms without first arguing which terms are most relevant.

    Once this very preliminary glossary list is ~80%~ complete, present it to our colleagues for their add/delete/clarification?

    Stay Healthy!

    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880

  • 16.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 06-17-2021 06:24 PM

    We started one here ... point well take, we need to expand.

    Jay Puckett P.E., F.ASCE
    University of Nebraska
    Omaha NE

  • 17.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 06-17-2021 12:54 PM
    Chat from the DHC session 1 -- archived for task force

    11:07:01 From Arturo Schultz to Everyone : Can we receive a copy of the ASEE paper?
    11:07:30 From Jay Puckett to Everyone : We can post it in the Forum library.
    11:08:30 From Joel G. Burken, Missouri S&T to Everyone : Thanks @JayP
    11:19:43 From Bill Kitch to Everyone : Need to properly spell engineering in the document
    11:25:53 From Bill Kitch to Everyone : The curriculum criteria has grown from ~100 words to ~150 words. I don't think there's a 50% improvement in the criteria. I think it should be possible to edit down without loss of value.
    11:26:37 From Arturo Schultz to Everyone : "Infrastructure" is a very broad term, far beyond what is being considered here. Can the term be more specifically defined, e.g. "civil infrastructure" or "built infrastructure"?
    11:28:21 From Bill Kitch to Everyone : There's a number of verbs that sound like outcomes rather than curricular topics. e.g. apply should be "include applications of"; explain should be "include."
    11:28:37 From Jay Puckett to Everyone : Next week we will have another session with a panel discussion to address specific questions as well.
    11:29:19 From Jay Puckett to Everyone : Good questions in chat.
    11:30:06 From Joel Sloan to Everyone : Concur with Bill Kitch, even though we're focusing on curricular requirements vs outcomes per the opening statement, every single statement that follows contains a Bloom's verb (apply, solve, explain, etc) which implies that students/graduates should be able to demonstrate learning outcomes at the specified Bloom's level.
    11:30:38 From Jay Puckett to Everyone : A short document with these points presented can be found in the library at: Comparison between the current and proposed revised civil engineering program criteria. https://collaborate.asce.org/HigherLogic/System/DownloadDocumentFile.ashx?DocumentFileKey=a67ed5ca-75c4-9253-32da-d3ff7886d1d1&forceDialog=0
    11:30:56 From Anirban De to Everyone : We need to discuss the use of Material Science - we teach Civil Engineering Materials, but most CE programs do not teach Material Science (the same way that Mech or Chem Eng) does.
    11:31:31 From 1 - Mandar Dewoolkar to Everyone : Yes, "material science" gave me pause. We need to understand what is expected.
    11:31:34 From Beth Wittig to Everyone : @Anirman, agree
    11:31:40 From 1 Jerry Hajjar to Everyone : I also question the use of the term materials science.
    11:31:55 From Christine Pomeroy to Everyone : Same - materials science gave me concern
    11:31:59 From Joel G. Burken, Missouri S&T to Everyone : I agree with the Mat Sci comments
    11:32:01 From Joel Sloan to Everyone : And we are adding more requirements than are being removed...if the field is changing (per the 2019 education summit, etc)...being more prescriptive could limit the ability of programs to update/adapt in the future.
    11:32:08 From Anirban De to Everyone : It is not practical to expect inclusions of DEI in design courses. We will either dilute the significance of DEI or deviate from the intent of our current design courses.
    11:33:05 From Bill Kitch to Everyone : While the ASCE code of ethics may be leading the way, including that specifically can cause problems for programs with multiple disciplines share significant portions of their curriculum.
    11:33:59 From Beth Wittig to Everyone : @ Anirban, I'm not sure of the intent of the DEI but it could be as simple as considering the needs of multiple stakeholders. Perhaps more discussion could clarify.
    11:34:13 From Chuck Haas to Everyone : Bill - also potentially an issue for international programs. I've raised this.
    11:34:34 From Jesus M. de la Garza (Clemson University) to Everyone : Consider adopting ASCE's JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion)
    11:35:05 From Herb Raybourn to Everyone : Great discussion in this chat. Your comments will be added to our issues register and presented to the task committee for discussion. I would like to invite everyone to visit the ASCE Collaborate community as well. It can be found here: https://collaborate.asce.org/communities/community-home?CommunityKey=e6d6a882-7268-4028-abf1-84397a60c739
    11:35:31 From Anirban De to Everyone : @Beth: Some of that is already in the new ABET SO 5 (inclusive and collaborative teams).
    11:35:39 From Robert Bertini, Oregon State University to Everyone : I applaud the inclusion of safety.
    11:35:50 From Beth Wittig to Everyone : me too
    11:40:17 From Bill Kitch to Everyone : While I understand the desire to choose verbs to specify Blooms level, I think this is completely unnecessary. It would be much simpler to just specify that topics need to be included in the curriculum. From a practical standpoint enforcing the levels is not realistic. As PEV, I can't image trying to writing a finding that a program failed to meet CE program criteria because a subject wasn't at the specific Blooms level.
    11:40:55 From Nick Hudyma to Everyone : Excellent point Bill.
    11:41:23 From Bill Kitch to Everyone : Kudos to team for a very well organized collaborate discussion thread. Thanks!
    11:41:59 From 1 Jerry Hajjar to Everyone : To the Department Heads and Chairs: I encourage you to work with your faculty to have the faculty, or yourselves, submit comments to the forum that Jay is discussing. This is the most important way to provide a documentation trail for your comments and their responses. I appreciate that the CEPC members are taking the time to respond carefully to each comment.
    11:42:17 From Joel Sloan to Everyone : Why not just state: "The curriculum must include: mathematics through differential equations, etc" and eliminate the Bloom's verbs entirely.
    11:42:38 From Camilla Saviz to Everyone : Thank you, Wayne, for your leadership and to all the CEPCTC members and corresponding members for your great work!! Outstanding presentation.
    11:42:49 From Bill Kitch to Everyone : @Joel I agree
    11:43:23 From Filza Walters to Jay Puckett(Direct Message) : Bill has hand up
    11:44:32 From 1 - Mandar Dewoolkar to Everyone : "Data" is already big and will continue to be in foreseeable future. Did the committee consider adding some appreciation toward data?
    11:45:22 From Marisa Chrysochoou to Everyone : what is the implication of the change of "basic science" to "natural science"? I heard that the term was changed for consistency, but I am wondering what that means in terms of actual courses (our UG coordinator was stressing about that)
    11:45:28 From Herb Raybourn to Everyone : As a reminder, the Collaborate site is here: https://collaborate.asce.org/communities/community-home?communitykey=e6d6a882-7268-4028-abf1-84397a60c739&tab=groupdetails
    11:46:07 From Scott Hamilton to Everyone : Thanks all for a great prestation and all the work by the Task Committee has done to get to this point! Thanks also for and the process developed.
    11:46:50 From Anirban De to Everyone : Thanks to the presenters for a very efficient way of presenting and letting us know of the forums on Collaborate.
    11:48:08 From Joel G. Burken, Missouri S&T to Everyone : Yes, I applaud the Task force for work, and seeking feedback and to improve the Criteria even more.
    11:48:24 From Dave Dzombak to Jay Puckett(Direct Message) : The question about why use Bloom's verbs if these are just curricular topics is a very good one.

    Jay Puckett P.E., F.ASCE
    University of Nebraska
    Omaha NE

  • 18.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 06-17-2021 05:24 PM
    These comments come from my experience as 1) a CE PEV and 2) Department chair with both a CE and ME program.  Our program criteria are amongst the most extensive and complex of all the ABET program criteria--way more complicated, for example, than the ME program criteria.  In terms of simple word count the new criteria increases the size of the criteria by over 40%.  From the starter threads above and presentations at the NCEDHC of 6/17/21, it appears much of the increase in complexity is due to a desire to specify the Bloom's Taxonomy level at which a CE topic is to be included in a program's curriculum.  While I appreciate the thought that went into the analysis to establish this level of detail, it seems like an unnecessary complication to program criteria which area already complicated.  Additionally, using the Bloom's-type verb such as apply, solve, and explain, we are making these program criteria sound like outcomes which is the opposite of the ABET guidance for program outcomes.  Finally, from a practical standpoint, I don't see this having any practical impact to the accreditation process.  I can't imagine as a PEV trying to write a defensible program shortcoming by saying a the curriculum did not include a program outcome at the appropriate Bloom's Taxonomy level.  All we're doing is complicating the preparation of CE program self-studies with little to no benefit.  I think it's instructive to know the expected level of coverage for these topics.  However, I don't think trying to jam that into the CE Program Criteria is helpful.  I think the curricular program criteria should simply state, "The program curriculum should include the following:  1) applications of mathematics through differential equations, 2) calculus-based physics, chemistry, and at least one additional area of natural science . . .  Just list what needs to be included and leave it at that.

    As a point of interest, the following figure presents the word count of all the ABET program criteria related to curriculum. Data shown in red are for programs in which ASCE has a role.  You'll note that half of the 8 longest program criteria are at least partially owned by ASCE.  We're headed the wrong direction here.  Let's shorten the program criteria, not make them longer.

    William Kitch Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE
    Angelo State University
    San Angelo TX

  • 19.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 06-18-2021 08:09 AM
    Bill - I totally agree with you.  Buying into the Bloom's Kool-Aid is the issue.  Good analysis on word count.  Just one comment --- one of the reasons that electric has a higher word count is that they actually have written a combined program criteria for both electrical engineering and computer engineering into one document.

    Charles Haas F.ASCE
    LD Betz Professor of Environ. Eng. & Department Head - Civil, Architectural and Environmental Eng.
    Philadelphia PA

  • 20.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 06-18-2021 08:17 AM
    Bill, thanks for elaborating on your comments made in the chat at the NCEDHC concerning use of Bloom's verbs and the length of the proposed CE Program Criteria relative to criteria statements for other engineering disciplines.  Thanks also for compiling the data on word count and for preparing the informative graphic.  Your comments and perspective will receive very careful attention by the CEPC Task Committee.

    Dave Dzombak

    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]

  • 21.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 06-18-2021 10:55 AM


    We really appreciate your input on this issue.  It's certain that the Task Committee will be giving careful consideration to your feedback. (Indeed, we're already working on a revised formulation that, we hope, will address your concern.) For now, I'd just like to provide some personal thoughts:

    • Please remember that all those "Bloom verbs" are preceded by the phrase "The curriculum must include topics necessary to…" Because we broke down the criteria into a line-by-line format for the online forum and a Powerpoint presentation, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that every one of those Bloom verbs is effectively preceded by this phrase.  Thus "apply engineering mechanics" should be read as "The curriculum must include topics necessary to apply engineering mechanics."
    • But why bother with Bloom's Taxonomy at all? It's a valid question.  Certainly, if using Bloom's Taxonomy adds no value, then we're just adding words and complexity to no good end.  But I disagree with your assertion that using Bloom's Taxonomy has no practical impact.  The biggest benefit of this system is to programs--for the purpose of curriculum development.  If the Program Criteria simply provide a list of curricular topics--e.g., calculus-based physics, engineering mechanics, sustainability, professional attitudes--all topics appear to be equally weighted.  But we certainly would not want professional attitudes to receive the same curricular coverage as engineering mechanics.  How does a program director decide how much coverage is enough coverage?  "Explain professional attitudes" sends a clear message that the expected amount of curricular coverage is "not much." Having been involved in curriculum development (and in teaching how to do curriculum development) for many years, I consider this a significant (and consequential) benefit.
    • If there's a better way to communicate the expected amount of curricular coverage, we'd love to hear your ideas.
    • I'm skeptical about using word count as a metric for success. We've been down this road before. Two Program Criteria iterations ago (in the early 2000s), there was very strong pressure to "get the word count down"--and the committee (CC&A) complied. The result was introduction of ambiguities that proved to be problematic when the criteria were implemented.  There's no doubt that using Bloom's Taxonomy adds to the word count of our Program Criteria (and has done so for two decades); and if using Bloom adds no value, then the added words really do just increase complexity to no good end.  But if the added words are enhancing clarity (as I believe they are), then we need to be very careful about removing words at the expense of clarity.
    • In my view, our larger word count (in comparison with other societies' Program Criteria) reflects the fact that no other professional society (except possibly AAEES) makes a systematic effort to ensure that its program criteria meet the needs of the profession-by making a broad-based effort to develop and publish the professional Body of Knowledge then develop Program Criteria that are consistent with the BOK.  Our process is not perfect, but it's pretty darned good.  Just one example: it could be argued that the most important issue facing the engineering profession today is sustainability.  Yet, astonishingly, the EAC General Criteria do not require any student outcomes or curricular coverage associated with sustainability; and only four sets of Program Criteria (of 28) even mention the word--Civil (ASCE), Architectural (ASCE), Environmental (AAEES), and Mining (SMME)--all of which have high word counts.  Why haven't all the other professional societies addressed sustainability in their Program Criteria (and why did they actively oppose inclusion of sustainability in the most recent updates to the General Criteria)?  Perhaps they're trying to keep their word count low; perhaps they're just not actively working to ensure that their criteria are promoting the development of graduates who can address the profession's critical needs.

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

  • 22.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 06-18-2021 02:07 PM
      Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

       I agree word count isn't a definitive metric.  As geotechnical engineer, I'd call it an index property.  It's not a direct measurement but an indicator.  Chuck has already pointed out a significant limitation.  Still, I think it's a useful indicator.

       I don't think we disagree with the idea of providing guidance to programs on expected levels of engagement with any given outcome.  I'm just pointing out 1) ABET Program Outcomes is not a very effective place for this to happen and 2) Bloom's Taxonomy is over-used and significantly limiting for a) non-dominant cultures (Hogsett, 1993; Bertucio, 2017),  b) non-cognitive skills (Stanny, 2016; Rahman & Manaf, 2017), c) not very accurate for cognitive skills (Newton et al, 2020;Stanny 2016).

      I think we should just keep the desire topic list in the CE Program Objectives to the list of topics needing to be covered and leave at that.  Anything beyond that is unenforceable, so why do it?

    Bertucio, B. (2017). The Cartesian Heritage of Bloom's Taxonomy. Studies in Philosophy and Education: An International Journal, 36(4), 477. Springer Nature Journals. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11217-017-9575-2
    Hogsett, C. (1993). Women's ways of knowing Bloom's taxonomy. Feminist Teacher, v7(n3), 27. Gale OneFile: Business.
    Newton, P. M., Da Silva, A., & Peters, L. G. (2020). A Pragmatic Master List of Action Verbs for Bloom's Taxonomy. Frontiers in Education, 5, 107. https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2020.00107
    Rahman, S. A., & Manaf, N. F. A. (2017). A Critical Analysis of Bloom's Taxonomy in Teaching Creative and Critical Thinking Skills in Malaysia through English Literature. English Language Teaching, 10(9), 245–256. ERIC.
    Stanny, C. J. (2016). Reevaluating Bloom's Taxonomy: What Measurable Verbs Can and Cannot Say about Student Learning. Education Sciences, 6(4). https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci6040037

    William Kitch Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE
    Angelo State University
    San Angelo TX

  • 23.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 06-19-2021 11:52 AM
    Hi Bill,

    As a fellow PEV and a department head whose own program gets evaluated, I find Bloom's Taxonomy to be very useful in the program criteria...especially when I am trying to determine to what level a topic needs to be covered in the curriculum.  When topics such as leadership, public policy, project management, ethics, etc. appear in the program criteria, a common critique is that I cannot afford to have a course in all those topics. A Bloom's verb such as explain or describe tells me that the level of coverage is low and a lecture or two on the topic is probably sufficient.  In the CE community where coverage is required in four recognized areas of civil engineering, Bloom's verbs are helpful in tell a program how much coverage is needed.  Verbs like design and analyze help make that clear.  In the Architectural Engineering community, we must cover structures, construction, electrical systems and mechanical systems to some degree.  The provision that we need design level coverage in one area, analysis level in another and comprehension level in the other two is very helpful.  While the Bloom terms are usually associated with objectives and outcomes, I have not been able to come up with a better way to indicate the curriculum content necessary to attain a particular cognitive level.  While you state that Blooms is over-used, that is actually an advantage because it has become a common vocabulary that we all use.

    Allen Estes P.E., F.ASCE
    California Polytechnic State University
    San Luis Obispo CA

  • 24.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 06-19-2021 03:32 PM
      I don't think we disagree about the value of using Bloom's Taxonomy to describe the cognitive level at which topics are expected to be covered.  I'm just opposed to attempting to codify those in the CE Program Criteria for 2 reasons.  First, the limitations of Bloom's Taxonomy (covers only the cognitive domain, has significant cultural and gender biases, and lacks accuracy & precision).  Second, it's not realistically enforceable within program criteria.  I would be fine with having the Bloom's verbs in the commentary for the program criteria, and for it to be presented as a best practice.  I just don't think it merits asking programs to articulate, or PEV to actually check the Bloom's levels at which program criteria topics are covered.  This is not the biggest problem I see in programs I visit--it's not even a secondary or tertiary concern, perhaps quaternary.  Let's not complicate the CE program criteria with something that will have little to no value in significant program improvement.


    William Kitch Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE
    Angelo State University
    San Angelo TX

  • 25.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 06-20-2021 06:54 PM
    Hi Bill,

    Good to hear from you as always.  Given your critique of Bloom's Taxonomy and its limitations, what do you suggest instead?  The CEPC requires some coverage of leadership, business policy, public policy, ethics, risk, reliability, seven recognized area of civil engineering and a requirement for laboratory experiences.  The program needs some guidance as to what level and degree these topics need to be covered to remain accredited.  If you don't support Bloom's verbs, how would you communicate this?  Bloom's has some limitations as you suggest, but I am at a loss to come up with something better.

    Also, it seems that Bloom's verbs are particularly appropriate for the CE community.  The Body of Knowledge uses Bloom verbs to define what knowledge the civil engineer should receive at the undergraduate level.  By using that same language in the program criteria, it avoids confusion and makes it clear whether the BOK standard is needed for accreditation or whether some lower standard is acceptable recognizing that the BOK is an aspirational document and the CEPC is a minimum standards document.

    Allen Estes P.E., F.ASCE
    California Polytechnic State University
    San Luis Obispo CA

  • 26.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 06-21-2021 11:52 AM
    Bill makes some great points. The BOK's extensive use of Bloom's verbs to describe aspirational attainment for BS graduates seems like a great reason to avoid them in the Program Criteria. It seems wise to avoid them in the Program Criteria. I find the use of Bloom's verbs in the Program Criteria confusing - as evidenced by my first question related to the proposed Program Criteria! I doubt if I am the only one. More importantly, establishing such definitive "minimum criteria" really boxes programs in and will make programs even more reluctant to innovate (if that is possible) over fear associated with how a PEV might interpret such specific criteria.

    Our current CE curriculum is in desperate need of innovation - now, more than ever. A simpler approach to the Program Criteria would serve the Civil Engineering profession better. ME curricula (as just one example) have been much more innovative over the past few decades; prospective students cited the resulting flexibility to me as to why they eventually chose ME over CE as a profession. Certainly, this is a weak reason, but I bet the rationale for most of us selecting CE as a career was just as flimsy; I know that mine was.

    The simplicity of the ME Program Criteria seems to have been a significant factor in ME curriculum innovation - at least that was my experience. ME faculty focused on program changes that led to improved outcomes; there was never a concern over accreditation as long as they were trying to improve the program. In contrast, CE faculty were afraid to try anything remotely innovative because they were uncertain how it would be interpreted by a PEV. Trading curriculum improvements for a greater certainty of accreditation is not good for our profession. I believe those fears are (mostly) unfounded. They are still real.

    Having the Program Criteria - at this time - err on the side of generality to spur much need curriculum innovation seems like a wise choice. As I look back, my use of the terms "curriculum" for CE and "curricula" for ME was unintentional, but probably telling.


    Donald F. Hayes, PhD, PE, BCEE, F. ASCE

  • 27.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 06-21-2021 02:32 PM
    Al, there are some alternatives to Bloom's Taxonomy, particularly in the non-cognitive domain.  However, that's not the key point I'm trying to make.  My key point is that I don't think the CE Program Criteria is the appropriate place publish this guidance.  I think the program criteria should simply list the minimum curricular topics that a CE program must cover.  That's it.  To go beyond this tries to make the program criteria something they're not intended to be, nor are well suited to support.  By their very nature ABET criteria are minimum criteria--they represent the cut line between a C and a D, acceptable versus unacceptable.  When I read the draft program criteria I feel like they're attempting to define the top aspirational goals not the minimum requirement.  Would we really call a program that delivered the required topics at a lower Bloom's level deficient?  I would hard pressed to do so.  Finally, from a practical standpoint, it would be impossible to enforce these draft program criteria.  I can't imagine trying to convince a group of PEV on a team visit that a CE program deserved a shortcoming because curriculum didn't cover a program specific topic at the appropriate Bloom's level.  If it did get drafted in the team report, it would never make it through editor 1.  Let's keep the program criteria simple, and keep the aspirational guidance in the BOK in our conferences, papers, and discussions.

    William Kitch Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE
    Angelo State University
    San Angelo TX

  • 28.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 06-21-2021 03:00 PM

    Here I posted the CM program criteria as one example of what that approach might look like.  I am familiar with CM's as this is part of the Durham School at UNL. Please note the broad statements prior to the list.  (personally, I am not advocating (or apposing) this approach, but just trying to facilitate the discuss with a concrete example)  JP

    Construction Management and Similarly Named Programs

    Lead Society: Construction Management Association of America

    I. Program Criteria for Baccalaureate Level Programs


    Graduates of Construction Management programs will have the knowledge, as well as the technical, administrative and communication skills, necessary to succeed in the construction industry. Students must demonstrate the knowledge and skills to deliver construction projects with respect to scope, schedule, budget, quality, safety, and the environment. The professional component must include these topics:

    1. construction project management from pre-design through commissioning;

    2. project life-cycle and sustainability;

    3. health and safety, accident prevention, and regulatory compliance;

    4. law, contract documents administration, and dispute prevention and resolution;

    5. materials, labor and methods of construction;

    6. finance and accounting principles;

    7. planning and scheduling;

    8. cost management including plan reading, quantity take offs and estimating;

    9. project delivery methods;

    10. leadership and managing people;

    11. business and communication skills

    Construction Management programs are expected to provide breadth across the range of topics. Other topic areas may be added as dictated by the Mission and Program Educational Objectives. Additionally, the extent to which each content area is developed and emphasized in a given program must be consistent with the program's mission and objectives.


    A full-time faculty member must be identified as administratively in charge of the program and preferably be full-time with the program.

    Jay Puckett P.E., F.ASCE
    University of Nebraska
    Omaha NE

  • 29.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 06-21-2021 01:56 PM
    Bill, thank you for bringing this up. I consider the "official" responses below to be arm waving excuses. The CE program criteria are overly restrictive and create inordinate stress over how individual PEVs will interpret the terms.
    My other opinion here is that it seems like ASCE updates the CE program criteria practically every other year, forcing us to review our curriculum against these criteria on an almost constant basis, requiring considerable person hours of effort from our faculty. I would really like to request a vast simplification - that is general enough to permit innovation in curriculum - and then a moratorium on additional changes for at least 5 years. Mercy!

    John Ivan P.E., M.ASCE
    Univ Of Connecticut
    Storrs Mansfield CT

  • 30.  RE: 17. General Comments

    Posted 06-22-2021 11:53 AM
    Professor Ivan,

    Your contention that "ASCE updates the CE program criteria practically every other year" is false.  Over a decade ago, ASCE made a commitment to minimize the disruptions caused by Program Criteria changes by establishing and publishing a firm 8-year cycle of criteria changes.  In developing this schedule, ASCE  has committed to consider Program Criteria updates only once every eight years--and these reviews have been scheduled into the future, so programs can plan for them over the long term.  Consistent with this commitment, CE Program Criteria updates were implemented in 2008 and 2016.  And the ongoing discussion is for an update that will be implemented in 2024.

    Please note that your requested "moratorium" of five years would be significantly more disruptive that the actual schedule of criteria updates that ASCE has instituted.

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