The National Academies

NCHRP 20-24(03) [Completed]

Expanding the Civil Engineering Pool
[ NCHRP 20-24 (Administration of Highway and Transportation Agencies) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $200,000 (Phases I & II) $100,000 (Phase III)
Research Agency: The Pennsylvania State University
Principal Investigator: Dr. John M. Mason
Effective Date: 7/1/1990
Completion Date: 6/30/1994

While recognizing the expected diverse demographics of our future population, the overall objective of the project was to recommend various implementable actions that will improve not only the number of civil engineers interested in transportation careers, but also the quality of those engineers.

Under a first phase, PTI catalogued and described existing techniques that are now being used to promote student awareness of civil engineering career options and interest in mathematics and science studies. Programs designed to address employee shortages in other professions were studied to benefit from any solutions to similar problems. Also under this phase, 17 focus groups at 4 locations were conducted with students (including women and ethnic minorities), teachers, parents, and counselors. The purpose of the focus groups was to gain insight into attitudes on civil engineering as a profession and career option.

Under a second phase and based on the results of the first phase, PTI recommended a series of actions that span kindergarten through college. Recognizing that there are other programs to promote mathematics and science, the degree to which these recommended actions stress civil engineering as a career option increases as the level of education increases. These various actions have been categorized under three themes: Awareness, Retention, and Curriculum, and are now referred to as the ARC model. The results of the first two phases have been published in NCHRP Report 347, "Civil Engineering Careers: Awareness, Retention, and Curriculum."

Under a third phase, various actions of the ARC model were advanced by providing more specific instruction on application and implementation and resulted in a comprehensive "User's Guide." Furthermore, the existing actions and techniques identified in the earlier phases were presented in a new "Directory of Programs and Services" using the ARC framework. This phase is complete. The User's Guide has been published as NCHRP Report 347-Part II, "Civil Engineering Careers: A User's Guide for Awareness, Retention, and Curriculum Programs." The "Directory of Programs and Services" is available for loan or purchase.

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