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A few years ago we conducted an extensive alumni survey about our graduate and undergraduate programs. We asked them to respond to what they would do differently and how our program could be improved. A table below indicates the percentages of alumni who felt changes should be made in the four different general areas. Responses were divided into groups of years since graduation and across all groups we were told that they were very well prepared technically, but that that they wished to have been provided more opportunities for professional development.
Not surprisingly these results were right in line with the movement in civil engineering practice and education. Over the past several years the Civil & Environmental Engineering Profession, indeed the engineering profession in general has placed more emphasis on the need to add innovation, leadership, business and project management to a strong technical background in order to remain competitive and to continue our country’s long history of being leaders in science and technology. This is evidenced by the addition of these skills as competencies in ABET outcomes and the ASCE’s Body of Knowledge as well as industry and academic trends. In response to this shift BYU’s Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering has developed a focus on Leadership, Innovation, Global awareness, High character, and Technological excellence (LIGHT - http://www.et.byu.edu/global-leadership) so that BYU’s engineering program and its graduates can rise to meet the challenges that face our world.
In the Civil Engineering Department we recognize the importance of LIGHT and seek to enhance our already strong technical program with these vital professional practice skills that will help them to become global leaders with the capacity to do much good in the world. One exciting program that we have piloted is an emphasis in engineering business operations, leadership, and project management. This program provides graduate students with an intensive learning experience in civil engineering business finance, marketing, contracting, leadership, project management, teamwork and much more as taught and generously shared by experienced professionals.
A key component of this graduate experience is the opportunity to lead and mentor an undergraduate team of students through a senior design project where all of these attributes can be learned through an on campus internship-like experience that mimics professional practice. We desire for each student to have the opportunity to develop his/her important design and creative capacity by being mentored by graduate students, faculty, and practicing professionals.