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Introduction

ORIGIN AND PURPOSE OF STUDY

This study was initiated at the request of the Federal Facilities Council 1 (FFC), a National Research Council activity comprising 18 federal agencies that procure and operate federal facilities or conduct construction-related research and meet to share information and sponsor studies to address problems of common interest.

The study was undertaken at the behest of federal officials who are concerned that colleges and universities throughout the United States may not be properly training graduates to design, construct, and manage the procurement of facilities. Based on their experiences in dealing with young architects and engineers, both in their own organizations and in private firms that design government buildings under contract, these officials have observed that recent graduates are unfamiliar with practical problems of design and construction. Federal officials fear that the situation could threaten their ability to procure and operate essential government facilities. 2

In requesting the study, the FFC emphasized that it was concerned not only about the education of federal employees. Since most federal facilities are designed and constructed by the private sector, there was

1  

Formerly the Federal Construction Council.

2  

The idea that the federal government needs to take an interest in scientific and technical education was emphasized in a 1990 statement on U.S. Technology Policy by the President's Science Advisor (Office of Science and Technology Policy, 1990).



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Education of Architects and Engineers for Careers in Facility Design and Construction 1 Introduction ORIGIN AND PURPOSE OF STUDY This study was initiated at the request of the Federal Facilities Council 1 (FFC), a National Research Council activity comprising 18 federal agencies that procure and operate federal facilities or conduct construction-related research and meet to share information and sponsor studies to address problems of common interest. The study was undertaken at the behest of federal officials who are concerned that colleges and universities throughout the United States may not be properly training graduates to design, construct, and manage the procurement of facilities. Based on their experiences in dealing with young architects and engineers, both in their own organizations and in private firms that design government buildings under contract, these officials have observed that recent graduates are unfamiliar with practical problems of design and construction. Federal officials fear that the situation could threaten their ability to procure and operate essential government facilities. 2 In requesting the study, the FFC emphasized that it was concerned not only about the education of federal employees. Since most federal facilities are designed and constructed by the private sector, there was 1   Formerly the Federal Construction Council. 2   The idea that the federal government needs to take an interest in scientific and technical education was emphasized in a 1990 statement on U.S. Technology Policy by the President's Science Advisor (Office of Science and Technology Policy, 1990).

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Education of Architects and Engineers for Careers in Facility Design and Construction equal concern about the education of engineers and architects working for private firms. Noting that many private owners, contractors, and design professionals had expressed similar concerns about the education of their professional employees, the FFC emphasized that the study should consider the needs of the entire design and construction community, not just federal agencies. A survey conducted by a committee of representatives of several trade and professional organizations verified that concern about the current educational system for architects and engineers is widespread. This concern is also illustrated by the introductory paragraph of the Executive Summary in a recent report of a task force of the National Institute for Architectural Education (Task Force on the Post Degree Education of the Architect, 1994): There is serious dissatisfaction in architecture over the widening gap between theoretical and practical knowledge and the conflicting objectives of academic preparation and professional practice. Practitioners complain that recently graduated architects are not well prepared to function adequately in today's office environment. New intern architects are said to lack skills as well as a sensibility to the real world environment of professional practice. The FFC recognized, however, that not everyone concedes the existence of a problem, and that many, in fact, believe that engineers and architects currently receive superb educations. The FFC agreed, therefore, that the study should be carried out in two phases: the first phase should assess current educational programs for architects and engineers to determine if they are graduating adequately trained professionals, and the second phase (to be initiated only if the existence of problems is confirmed by the first phase) should develop of recommendations to solve the identified problems. (See committee Statement of Task, Appendix A .) STUDY PROCEDURES The committee met in 1993 and 1994. The first two meetings were spent clarifying the concerns of the agencies, and reviewing various reports, papers, and books on the subject. These meetings identified the key issues and established the views of the committee members on these issues. The agency liaison members of the committee participated actively in this phase of the study. Subsequent meetings were spent assessing additional data and discussing and editing report drafts. The challenge for the committee in phase one was to determine if the educational problems currently being experienced with architects and engineers in the United States—particularly as they affect the design and construction industry—are serious and widespread enough to justify ac-

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Education of Architects and Engineers for Careers in Facility Design and Construction tion. To answer this question the committee carefully investigated the validity and seriousness of the problems that have been ascribed to the current educational systems for architects and engineers. Architects and engineers are justly proud of their professions. They have worked exceedingly hard to gain their technical expertise and realize the importance of their work and its substantial contribution to society. They are, therefore, intent on ensuring that their professions excel, and since the future of a profession depends on its new members, they are quick to express concern at any perceived shortcomings in the educational process. Consequently, countless articles have been written on architectural and engineering education, and professional societies have published education-related reports and studies. The committee has relied heavily on past and recent writings while forming judgments on the state of architectural and engineering education. To obtain additional input, the committee sought the professional views of senior representatives from the following societies and associations. They were asked about the perception that problems exist in their field and to advance any possible solutions concerning such problems: Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology; American Consulting Engineers Council; American Council for Construction Education; American Institute of Architects; American Society for Engineering Education; American Society of Civil Engineers; American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers; American Public Power Association; Associated General Contractors of America; Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture; National Architectural Accreditation Board; National Institute for Architectural Education; National Society of Professional Engineers; and National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. The committee carefully selected this diverse group of academic and non-academic organizations in order to hear a broad spectrum of views. Whenever possible the committee attempted to interview an elected or appointed officer of each organization, especially a high-level officer with a knowledge of education. 3 3   In one case, a former president was interviewed because he had more knowledge of education than the current president.

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Education of Architects and Engineers for Careers in Facility Design and Construction The responses were varied. However, the committee found substantial agreement on the following specific points: The overwhelming majority of the professionals interviewed agreed that a significant percentage of the members of their organizations believe that there are serious problems with the current system for educating both engineers and architects. This view was expressed by both academics and non-academics and by respondents who did not themselves necessarily agree with the idea that problems exist. A very large fraction of respondents agreed that one of the major problems their members see with the current educational system for both architects and engineers is the failure of schools to give students enough practical knowledge and instruction in solving real world problems. This was the problem most frequently mentioned among respondents. Two solutions to the problem of students getting insufficient practical training were proposed by a number of the people interviewed: (1) include more professionals with practical industry experience on the faculty and (2) revise the curriculum to provide more emphasis on design, practice, and practical problem-solving techniques. No single recommendation that agencies might act upon was suggested by a majority of the respondents; however, there were several suggestions that agencies be urged to sponsor in co-op and internship programs. SCOPE AND FOCUS OF THE REPORT This report deals with the education of architects and engineers who design, construct, and manage building projects. Because architectural and engineering educations are markedly different from each other, they are discussed separately in many sections of the report. Similarly, although many engineering disciplines include building design and construction processes, civil engineering is the discipline that the predominantly encompasses these programs; consequently, the report concentrates on civil engineering as opposed to other engineering disciplines. The committee concentrated primarily on the first professional level degree earned (usually a bachelor's degree for engineers and a 5-year bachelor's degree or a master's degree for architects). Graduate programs for engineers are not addressed in detail because most engineers do not obtain advanced degrees and because graduate programs have not been as controversial as undergraduate programs. However, the report dis-

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Education of Architects and Engineers for Careers in Facility Design and Construction cusses the concept of the master's degree as being the basic professional degree for engineers. The committee also focused more on traditional engineering education programs than on engineering technology 4 programs largely because the former awards about eight times as many bachelor's degrees as the latter (ASEE, 1992). The report does not specifically address the various construction management, construction technology, and building science programs that aim to train students solely for careers in the construction industry. By orientation such programs are highly responsive to the needs of the industry, and the agencies do not question their value or curricula. (See Appendix B for a review of construction management programs.) Finally, in analyzing the current educational programs for architects and engineers, the committee has focused on the alleged problems and shortcomings. The committee's focus on negative aspects of these programs should not be construed to suggest that there is nothing good about the current programs. As evidenced from the high quality of advanced technology in the United States—including construction technology—and the attractiveness of U.S. educational programs to foreign students, U.S. schools produce some of the best engineers and architects in the world. However, the committee was charged to assess the relative weaknesses of the U.S. educational system in these areas. The committee believes that by focusing on the weaknesses, this report directly confronts the concerns that prompted the study and avoids devoting excessive effort to matters that do not require attention. ORGANIZATION OF THE REPORT Chapter 2 presents some general background information on the U.S. construction industry and the type of technical professionals it employs. It also outlines the current educational system for architects and engineers in the United States. This information is included for readers unfamiliar with the design and construction industry. Chapter 3 discusses concerns that have been raised about the capabilities of the students being produced by engineering and architectural schools. The committee views the architectural and engineering programs from the standpoint of the consumer—the graduates as well as the design and construction industry 4   Engineering technology has been defined by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) as “that part of the technological field which requires the application of science and engineering knowledge and methods combined with technical skills in support of engineering activities; it lies in the occupational spectrum between the craftsman and the engineer at the end of the spectrum closest to the engineer. ”

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Education of Architects and Engineers for Careers in Facility Design and Construction that hires new graduates. The report also views educational programs from the inside, looking at policies and practices that might contribute to the shortcomings of graduating architects and engineers. Chapter 4 summarizes the committee's investigation, presents its conclusions on the state of architectural and engineering education in the United States, and recommends areas for further study. The report also contains three appendixes: the committee's statement of task, a description of the educational system for construction managers, and biographical information on the members of the committee.