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The Dynamics of Civil Engineering Program Content
Civil engineering program content is driven by a number of factors including industry needs, accreditation requirements, general education requirements, and engineering standards. Many groups including NCEES (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying) and ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) have recently promoted revisions to what should be included in a civil engineering program. Meanwhile, some states have moved to reduce the number of credits required for an engineering degree for economic reasons. The constant requirement to add non-engineering topics while reducing total credits creates a tension that requires constant adjustments to a curriculum. It also makes it difficult to provide the engineering topics needed. Although the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) requires students to take many additional non-engineering courses it has maintained an ABET accredited civil engineering program for 85 years. During that time the number, breadth, and depth of the required courses has evolved. This study focused on reviewing the degree requirements since the program’s inception. At least one university catalogue was reviewed for each decade to compare the program requirements. This included the total number of credits, the number of required courses, and the number of elective courses. The results reveal that courses on engineering fundamentals have not changed significantly, but the type and number of elective choices has changed significantly. The paper also provides a way to measure breadth and depth within a curriculum.