One School’s Approach to the Additional Area of Science Requirement for Civil Engineering

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



In 2008 ABET’s Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC), the body responsible for accreditation of engineering programs, changed the criteria for Civil Engineering programs to include a requirement that graduates of those programs “can...apply knowledge least one additional area of science, consistent with the program educational objectives”. 1 This new requirement appears to have its origins in the Body of Knowledge (BOK), and the desire to make those ideals and the ABET requirements for Civil Engineering programs become one in the same. However, for many programs across the country this became an issue of concern and confusion. Taking its cue from the BOK the “one additional area of science” shortly became defined to mean a physical science, as opposed to a social science, and that this “area of science” could not include Computer Science, Chemistry or Physics.

Because of this, programs needed to change their curricula to address this criterion. Schools that had an emphasis where additional Chemistry or Physics courses had previously been incorporated to take advantage of native strengths in their university or to support the focus of their program now had to reassess the value of these course versus the need to cover an area of science outside these fields. Many other schools had not required a science course outside of Chemistry or Physics and now needed to add a course to address this issue. Still others who may have required such a course now needed to assess the effectiveness of yet another course taught outside their department.

This paper will look at the method adopted by one university to meet this criterion while at the same time attempting to remain true to the goals and objective of that program with respect to providing a broad education to its students and utilizing the unique and distinct opportunities that program’s university provided to those same students. To assess the method adopted by this school a series of questionnaires were given to all students who graduated with the criterion of an additional “area of science” included in their graduation requirements. These questionnaires attempted to determine which area of emphasis within Civil Engineering the student planned to pursue upon graduation, which additional “area of science” the student the student studied while they were in school, and how this study aided them in their understanding of Civil Engineering.

The results obtained, after this new criterion had been in effect for several years offers insight into both the method of meeting this requirement chosen by this school, as well as comments on the benefit of this criterion for the Civil Engineering profession as a whole.