Christopher A. Lesher, P.E., M.ASCE
This month I would like to share my thoughts on education. Like it or not, everyone requires education, but how much is enough? Some folks think you can never have too much, “PhD or bust!”, while others think a B/BS is plenty. ASCE has taken a position in the middle with its “Raise the Bar” campaign for a Bachelor’s Degree plus 30 credits. What do you think?
“Raise the Bar” is not just meant to increase the educational standard, but by doing so it also raises the awareness of the importance of civil engineers. Like doctors and lawyers, we go through more to have the opportunity to serve society. Civil engineers are often overlooked in the mundane day-to-day grind. We don’t get our due credit until a crisis happens and we are pushed to the forefront. Instead of being pushed, let’s take charge of our destiny and make sure society understands how important we are!
For most of my career of nearly 23 years, I have been a firm believer in more than the typical 120 credits most universities require to obtain a Bachelor’s degree. I admit my opinion is a little bit skewed. I graduated from Penn State in 1990 with a 5-year BAE (Bachelor of Architectural Engineering), so right from the start my position in the world of Civil Engineering was different than typical civil engineers. This degree required 167 credits and included a year-long thesis project…for a Bachelor’s Degree. Today Penn State offers a similar program, but students graduate with a dual degree (Bachelor’s and Master’s)…for the same work! (I’m really not bitter about my BAE, but an MAE would have been nice.) Other universities are doing the same, such as RPI’s Co-Terminal Program. So it would seem that universities recognize the need for more education, but they are not making it mandatory, which is what ASCE would like to see.