Orange County Branch Newsletter

March 2013

President's Message

President's Message - Raise the Bar

By Tapas Dutta, P.E.

One of three areas of focus for ASCE, is “Raising the Bar”.  I will be highlighting the other two in this column later in the year.  In last month’s Secretary’s column, Cindy provided some details on this initiative.

Briefly, ASCE has adopted the policy that requires additional academic requirements for future professional engineers.  The emphasis is on “future”; implementation of this policy will not affect existing engineers. The graphs that Cindy provided (also shown below), shows that requirements for a civil engineering education have held steady at four years for the last 100 years, even as other professions have “raised their bars”.  During the same period, the average number of Engineering credits required to graduate has slowly declined.

It is an inescapable fact that with passage of time, engineering and technology gets more complicated, not less so.  Thus, it is deplorable that we have allowed our engineering graduates to be trained less than their colleagues from previous generations. The reasons that this has happened has more to do with politics and the economy than what the real need is.  We have to be good stewards directing the current and future needs of our profession.  If the professions of Medicine, Law, Pharmacy, Architecture, Accounting and Occupational Therapy deem more than four years of formal education is required, Civil Engineers are more than justified in requiring additional training. 

In my opinion, not requiring additional educations even as the Body of Knowledge (BOK) that civil engineers need to have expertise on grows in volume and complexity does a gross disservice to our profession.

·         It places great pressure on our engineers to rise to the technical challenges that are out there.

·         It degrades our professional credentials in comparison with other professions mentioned earlier that require additional education

·         It has the potential of having our future infrastructure at risk, if the education and training levels of future engineers do not keep pace with tomorrow’s complex challenges

ASCE supports that the appropriate BOK for engineers include:

1.       A B.S. degree in Civil Engineering

2.       A Masters degree, or a minimum of 30 coordinated technical/professional credits

3.       Appropriate experience.

On October 19, 2010, the ASCE Board of Direction, adopted Policy Statement 465 – Academic Prerequisites for Licensure and Professional Practice.

The complex challenges facing the 21st century engineer need the implementation of this Policy.  Future engineers would need a greater breadth and depth of knowledge to successfully compete in an increasing global economy.  Civil engineering affects all aspects of society, and our society expects to maintain and improve standards of living over time.  From a personal perspective, I would like to see our young engineers better trained in technical writing and public speaking.  Both of these skills are essential in effectively enabling our profession in securing funding and advancing technical points of view.

Other professional organizations agree with this ASCE initiative.  Both the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) and the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) have endorsed “Raise the Bar”.    A major National Academy of Engineering (NAE) report concludes that four years of education is not adequate.  A National Science Foundation (NSF) report says that a Master’s degree should provide entry into the profession.

The NCEES has changed its model state licensure law to require (no earlier than 2020) additional education beyond the bachelor’s degree for newly licensed PE’s.  The change will not affect the PEs who are already licensed. 

Raising the Bar, is necessary for the engineer of the future. It will provide the required training meet the engineering challenges of tomorrow, enhance the stature of our profession and create highly qualified engineering work force.  It will also attract more students to Civil Engineering, as evidenced by the case of the accounting profession in Florida where raising the educational requirements directly resulted in an increased enrolment. 

What needs to happen to Raise the Bar?  We need to raise the awareness with the public and our legislators and encourage and support state level legislation to update licensure laws. For additional information, please visit

Related Groups/Committees