A Discipline-Specific Learning Tool – CEE

Introduction

This document was constructed from responses to a survey that was sent out to CEE
sophomores, juniors, and seniors during late Spring 2017. We hope that the information
contained herein will serve as a resource to help consultants understand the CEE student
experience when consulting CEE concentrators, as well as a guideline of what to expect for
students who are in the department or may be thinking about joining.

Expectations, Challenges, and Skills

After delving into the core coursework of the department, many students felt like the content
that was covered in classes was not what they expected to study. Perhaps this inconsistency of
expectations and reality was rooted in a lack of knowledge regarding what civil and
environmental engineering actually is. For example, students on the environmental side felt that
not enough emphasis was placed on energy and sustainability, and were surprised to have had
to take courses in structural engineering upon entering the department. Furthermore, they
would have liked to have had lab experience before junior or senior year. Other students noted
that the structural track more heavily emphasizes bridge design over other structures such as
buildings. One expectation that seemed to have been met was the closeness and familiarity
among members of the department.

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges that recent CEE majors have faced is matching courses
that fit their interests both within and outside of the department. Because of strict ABET
guidelines, some students believed that they had to take too many engineering courses that did
not really interest them, while not having enough engineering classes offered that they did find
interesting. The rigidity of the required course load makes it difficult to choose electives (both
for departmental program electives and general electives) that are compatible with these
required courses with regard to scheduling. Some students feel that undergraduate advising
was not so helpful in choosing departmental classes and electives. Also, there is little
departmental support in helping students find jobs in civil and environmental engineering
industry; students are generally overwhelmed with recruiting opportunities from
finance/consulting/tech firms.

There seems to be a consensus among students in different tracks that the department
emphasizes the development of theoretical skills that are then applied in problem-solving
scenarios in assignments. For example, this may include the use of equations and
mathematical methods. However, many students feel like there is not enough specific
instruction of software design and modelling tools commonly used in civil and environmental
engineering industry (such as Matlab, CAD, Rhino, etc.). The lack of familiarity with some of
these tools has made some students feel unprepared when applying to jobs and internships.