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ICIS Workshop on Civil Infrastructure Systems (CIS) Education, Workshop Summary

Author: Roy Sparrow and Stephen James

Publication type: Acrobat PDF

The Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems (ICIS) was established in 1998 by the National Science Foundation. Its primary goal is to promote activities that enhance the value of civil infrastructure to the users and to the communities that experience its impacts. Critical to that effort is establishing and promoting a broader context for infrastructure planning and management. Many individuals in academia and industry now recognize that the engineers (and other civil infrastructure systems (CIS) professionals) who are responsible for developing and designing our infrastructure lack the interactive and integrated skills needed to support socially responsive civil infrastructure systems. Since education at all levels is one of the principal instruments for developing and maintaining the knowledge and competence of general citizens as well as professionals, ICIS has developed programs to assess the objectives, content, the methods and impact of the educational programs, including those that train future CIS professionals. In order to better understand the state of development of higher education programs, ICIS conducted a conference on June 10 and 11, 1999 addressing the higher educational needs of CIS professionals and the success of civil engineering and related programs in meeting these needs. A broad and diverse gathering of educators, industry and agency managers convened to discuss, debate, and deliberate the issues and problems that they perceive as the failures, the needs, and the successes of civil infrastructure systems higher education. The conference was produced under the leadership of Professor Roy Sparrow of New York University, Co-principal investigator of ICIS, and Professor Ilan Juran of Polytechnic University. The purpose of the workshop was to create a university-industry dialogue on the relationship between the nature of CIS practice and the performance of professional education programs. In other words the workshop asked how well civil engineering programs are doing to address the rapidly changing needs of government and industry. More specifically this workshop had three main goals. First, it provided a venue for a broad-based discussion of the core competencies and skills engineers will need in the future to be effective developers and managers of civil infrastructure systems. Second, the conference brought to light the challenges to innovation and change in the educational system. This was done by examining existing practices in higher education as well as reviewing some alternative and innovative methods that may provide a foundation for future educational approaches. And third, ICIS will use the results of the conference as important input in developing model curricula designed to prepare infrastructure developers and managers who can meet the role and performance demands of modern civil infrastructure systems. The knowledge gained through the workshop will also inform the choice of activities in other ICIS programs as they relate to higher education.

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Date Created: November 1999; Date Posted: April 2006






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