Civil, construction, architectural, surveying and environmental engineering technology

Civil, construction, architectural, surveying and environmental engineering technology

Brizendine, Anthony L

This special focus issue of the Journal of Engineering Technology takes aim at civil engineering technology while also addressing the related areas of construction, architectural, and surveying engineering technology. In doing so, this special section presents three papers. The first and third papers describe different pedagogical perspectives for achieving academic outcomes at the respective institutions while the second paper is a technical treatment in surveying.

The first special focus paper is by a group of faculty members at the University of Hartford who share their thoughts and efforts in revising and reforming architectural engineering technology at their institution. This paper has been previously presented at the 2000 CIEC Conference, but was deemed worthy of distribution to a wider audience with some additions. Jim Fuller, Dan Davis, and Elizabeth Petry focus on collaborations between educators and practitioners to provide an “integrative curriculum.” While most of us in higher education believe our students need to be critical thinkers and creative problem solvers, this group organizes their curriculum in terms of “student learning through effective implementation of practice.” Much of the approach that Jim, Dan and Elizabeth describe, in response to the Boyer and Mitgang report Building Community: A New Future for Architecture Education and Practice, is directly applicable to all of engineering technology. They describe integrating “realistic issues” (real programs, real sites, cost estimating and scheduling) into the design studio in a manner that “increases awareness of . . . interrelationships” and moves away from compartmentalized education– something that we all would do well to accomplish.

The second paper is a technical surveying paper by William H. Sprinsky from the Pennsylvania College of Technology. Dr. Sprinsky’s paper discusses Tuttle’s Method, an algebraically-based emulation of the least squares method of traverse adjustment, and provides an illustration of the technique as observed by his students. The paper describes the results of a National Science Foundation grant that provided equipment and allowed for programmatic changes to support more modern approaches in civil engineering and surveying. Further, the paper acknowledges the challenge of “how to give each student not only theory but also actual experience with projects and equipment that are common and essential in modern civil engineering practice.”

The final paper, co-written with two of my colleagues, Ted Stilgenbauer and Tom Nicholas, provides an overview of one approach for the integration of software into a civil engineering technology program. While the article addresses the use of a specific computer program, the software is nearly universally utilized in most construction programs and the process is readily adaptable to any engineering technology program. This experiment represents one approach to meeting industry demands for more use of computers and software in our undergraduate programs; it was an attempt to develop greater software capability and proficiency for our students while maintaining strength of content coverage. One concern of many educators is the loss of content time that can result from attempts to incorporate software applications into courses. In a recent Prism article discussing the existential pleasures of engineering, noted author and engineer Henry Petroski stated that “Engineers today are much more likely to have the role of manager– but they may be managing a computer rather than a group of people. What engineers learn in their introductory courses is, rather than being an end in itself, a means to understanding the technology they will almost invariably come to manage.” Without question, software is crucial to the education of the complete technician, technologist, or engineer. As a profession, we must incorporate those tools into the curriculum without sacrificing understanding of basic principles. After all, the graduate must have some frame of reference to know when a computer-generated answer is reasonable or unreasonable.

I extend special thanks to the authors for their contributions, and my gratitude to Nancy Denton and the entire editorial board of the Journal for their guidance and assistance. I hope that each reader finds these articles interesting and beneficial.

Copyright American Society for Engineering Education Spring 2001

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