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1 Civil Engineering: Is it worth the pain?

GARCIA-ARELLANO
Stephany Elizabeth Garcia-Arellano
11/23/14
RWS 1311
Instructor Meagan Kinley

Civil Engineering: Is it worth the pain?


Introduction
Civil engineering is a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design,
construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including works
like roads, bridges, canals, dams, and buildings, according to the famous Wikipedia site. There
are many different branches within civil engineering including materials science, coastal,
construction, earthquake, environmental, geotechnical, water resources, structural, surveying,
transportation, forensic, municipal/urban, and air control. Civil engineering is evidently part of
the college of engineering. The engineering department at UTEP is located really close to the
streets Hawthorne and Rim, behind the colorful and recently built computer science building,
which almost everybody knows because there is a Starbucks in the inside of that building. At
The University of Texas at El Paso, there are eighteen professors especially for civil engineering
classes; you can find their names and some more information about them in the directory online
at the web page of the department of engineering (Citation included in the references page) or
you could go to the civil engineering department and meet them personally. The University of
Texas at El Paso awarded 4,345 degrees in 2011-2012 including undergraduate and graduate
degrees awarded.
Doing this project in my fall freshman semester has given me the opportunity to discover
the exigence that I had towards my discipline which was do I really want to study civil

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engineering? Why is this so important to me? It has given me time to stop and think the
dissonance that I have towards my career, the need for me to learn more about civil engineering
before even taking core courses.
I chose this discipline because of many reasons. One of them was that when I was about
six years old, I would always watch television programs about construction like extreme
makeover home edition and channels like HGTV. That subject has always fascinated me. Then
some years after, when I was like thirteen years old my stepfather took me to some construction
sites and then I started to gain more interest in doing civil engineering as a career. Through that, I
got to meet many civil engineers and architects that really loved what they did, so they arouse a
passion inside me to do civil engineering.
When I heard that we were going to have to interview professors and/or professionals in
the field that we were going to study, I felt really excited because I wanted to see if it was my
desire to become a civil engineer. Just by interviewing the civil engineering professors inspired
me even more to achieve my dream.
I thought that doing this project was going to help a lot to better understand what a
student had to go through and what should we (new entering students) had to be aware of to have
a smoother and easier academic career. My main question is what does it take to become a
successful civil engineer?
We had to select secondary research questions to help to answer the main question,
these questions were the ones that I chose and the answers to them.
My first secondary research question was: What education, as well as training, does a
student need prior to graduating? To obtain a degree in civil engineering a student needs to study
classes based in math and science. (See appendix A for degree plan) A student is not required to

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do training before graduating but it is highly recommended because companies are looking for
people ready to be put to work.
My second research question was: What qualities and abilities does a student need to
become a civil engineer? A student needs to be attentive, work hard, learn how to learn and gain
discipline for his or her own welfare. Reading from the book is something that Dr. Adeeba, one
of my interviewees advises to do.
My third secondary research question was: Which skills will a civil engineer need? A
civil engineer will need decision-making skills, leadership skills, math skills, organizational
skills, problem-solving skills, writing skills and communication skills like Dr. Santiago said.
My fourth secondary research question was: How much and what type of experience does
a civil engineer need? An engineer needs experience before putting any hands on. An engineer
has to be ready to work problems around and be serious about their responsibility.
My last secondary research question was: What else does a student need to become a
civil engineer? A student needs to really have passion and be serious about what they are going
to study because most high school students start to look for careers that bring a lot of money but
instead they should think about what they want to do for the rest of their lives.
Literature Review/Background
This project is associated with many ideas like background information that an engineer
has to have, how many and what type of classes are recommended for a civil engineer, what it
takes to be a successful engineer, how can the college experience affect the kind of job and/or
salary that are paid, etc. These ideas fit with my project in that every piece of knowledge that an
engineer has, determines how successful he or she will be.

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My project explores different perspectives about the background and/or the way that
someone has to go through to become a civil engineer. The questions were appropriate and
effective to do my research because they inquired how this dream of being civil engineer could
be accomplished by any student.
We had to select secondary research questions to help to answer the main question,
these questions were the ones that I chose and why were they appropriate.
My first secondary research question was: What education, as well as training, does a
student need prior to graduating? This question was appropriate because I wanted to know basic
information about the career like the courses, how hard is it to study civil engineering, etc.
My second research question was: What qualities and abilities does a student need to
become a civil engineer? When I thought of adding this question I thought of researching more
into what qualities does an engineering student need in order to survive and succeed in college.
My third secondary research question was: Which skills will a civil engineer need? What
I intended to learn by this question was the abilities that a civil engineer will need to know by the
time of graduation because I want to be prepared from the very beginning.
My fourth secondary research question was: How much and what type of experience does
a civil engineer need? Through this question I wanted to learn more from the peoples mistakes
to avoid failures.
My last secondary research question was: What else does a student need to become a
civil engineer? Lastly I wanted to inquire more into specific details that I might have not
included in the previous questions.
Procedure/Methodology

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Data Methods Selection: I needed to collect facts about civil engineering and I really
wanted to listen to experiences that might help me in terms of academic career. I think that
listening to advise from different people gives you a sense of what should you not do and what
should you do, in my case I love when people advise me with their personal experiences and
their knowledge because it is convenient for many people to not make the same mistakes as
everybody else.
Data Collection: In high school I did not do this type of research so I thought that doing
interviews, surveys, document analysis, and site observations as methods were good choices for
my research because they gave me different ways to see one topic, civil engineering in my case.
Interviews: I conducted interviews with three different professors: Adeeba Raheem, Ph.
D., Ivonne Santiago, P.E. (TX, NM, and PR), Ph.D., and Austin Marshall J.D., Ph. D. I chose to
interview Dr. Raheem and Dr. Santiago because they were having their office hours at the time
that I went to the civil engineering department, I thought it was interesting that I interview the
only two women teaching in the civil engineering department, so the only person that I actually
looked up into interviewing was Dr. Marshall because I thought his Curriculum Vitae (CV) was
very interesting and I saw that he had worked as a construction manager, which is what I want to
work on once I graduate, hoping to get even more advise on that. (See appendix B for the
interview questions
The first person that I interviewed was Dr. Adeeba Raheem (Interview 1.) Her interview
lasted 10 minutes with 42 seconds. During the interview the first thing that she told me was that
her bachelors degree is in architectural engineering and design, not civil engineering like I
thought but still in the same area. She touched some very interesting points like when she said
that in civil engineering courses most professors teach from their practical experience so it is

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necessary to read from the book. Another point that Dr. Raheem took was that a student should
always be involved in both studies and professional activities. Communication and collaboration
were two things that she said that are very important to succeed.
The second professor that I interviewed was Dr. Ivonne Santiago from Puerto Rico
(Interview 2.) Her interview lasted 28 minutes with 34 seconds. Her interview was really
meaningful because she pointed out aspects like that her career was based on opportunities, she
never said no. Another thing was that she studied a doctoral degree because she always loved to
learn more and being a professor allows her to keep learning. Dr. Ivonne, just like Dr. Raheem,
said that communication is very important, and Dr. Ivonne said that she still sees that problem in
engineers.
Lastly the professor that I interviewed was Dr. Austin Marshall (Interview 3.) His
interview lasted 21 minutes with 33 seconds. Dr. Marshall said that students have to learn to
work hard and have discipline in order to succeed. For him the project experiences were
extremely valuable and much appreciated. He also pointed out that you learn the most from the
projects that fail, because you remember them, so it is okay to make mistakes, but it is important
to try to avoid them by paying attention to details and mostly because civil engineering includes
a lot of responsibility.
Survey: I performed the surveying mostly during Dr. Marshalls class while I was doing
the site observation. I asked most, if not all, students if they could go to the webpage that I wrote
in 37 pieces of paper to give to each one of them, but only five took the survey. Some took the
survey that same day and some others on the following day. The other three students that took
the survey were my friends because I had asked them some days before if they could take the
survey. The results said that civil engineering is not an easy field to study. The majority students

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agreed that the homework, the classes and the studying are hard. (See appendix C for the
questions and appendix D for the results.)
Site Observation: I performed the site observation on November 11, 2014 in a senior
course class in project management with the professor Austin Marshall. (See appendix E for the
results) There were 37 students and out of those there were only five women, those numbers
impressed me but like Dr. Adeeba said that once you have your degree you wont feel like you
dont belong in there. Doing this site observation lead me to an understanding of how much
students mature in college. The students were focused on what they were doing all the time and
they helped me get even more inspired to keep studying civil engineering.
Document: Doing a document analysis did not help as much as the other resources did
but it still introduced me to some information that I might have not obtained by the other
methods. The document (attached in appendix F) shows the importance of joining civil
engineering because most civil engineers (born during the baby boom after world war II) are
either retiring or dying while demand is increasing along with the worlds population. The
document also refers to the salary of a civil engineer and some other statistics.
Data coding: I coded my data by looking for similar topics within the responses that I
got from the interviews, the survey, the site observation, and the document. I found topics
including education/training, qualities/abilities, skills, and experience. I coded my data with
these topics and with the rhetorical appeals (ethos, logos, and pathos) trying to look for
information that would match both the topic and the rhetorical appeal. (See appendix F for the
data-coding chart.) Out of doing this coding of the data I found very useful information like for
example one of the responses that I really liked was that a civil engineer has to be someone that
can demonstrate that can think enough to design a building without risking the lives of many

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people which was taken out of interview 3 with Dr. Marshall (I3 Q15). You can see that not all
of the responses that I got are in that table because it was either not relevant or it did not fit into
those categories.
Results/Discussion
Back to my primary research question: What does it take to become a successful civil
engineer?
First of all to become a civil engineer you have to find passion in doing that because it
would not make sense for you to study that and be miserable for the rest of your life, not loving
what you do, like Confucius once said, choose a job you love, and you will never have to work
a day in your life.
It takes hard work and discipline to be a successful engineer. Engineering itself comes
with a lot of responsibility and if you were not prepared to deal with huge and difficult problems
like the ones that most engineers are dealing with, then why would you want to be an engineer?
It takes a lot of effort to become a civil engineer, mostly because of the studies, but not
only should you aim to become a successful engineer but to become a better person every day.
It is logical that it takes education, it takes training, it takes skills, it takes time, it even
takes money but school is there for some reason, to prepare you. If you still dont have those
qualities, or those skills that are needed dont worry because nothings impossible and you can
always learn how to become a successful civil engineer.
If you really want to pursue your dream, no matter the career, you will learn how to
become a successful person in life. Keep following your dreams.
Conclusion

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Out of doing the interviews I was very inspired to follow the same path of studying civil
engineering. However, when I saw the responses of the survey, I got a little bit scared because
most students agreed that studying civil engineering is hard and I started to doubt if civil
engineering was for me, because like professor Marshall said that civil engineering is very
rewarding, referring to the places that his job took him to, but still civil engineering is surely not
a piece of cake.
As a freshman college student in civil engineering, it seems like it is going to be a really
long race, and it probably is, but I think that I can do it all through Christ who strengthens me
and you can too.
Just keep in mind to join an association or more as soon as possible, because you will
have more time to be involved than once you are doing harder courses. I joined MAES/SHPE
(Mexican American Engineers and Scientists/Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers) like on
the first month of my first semester and I already traveled to San Diego to the MAES 40th
national conference. I also joined ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) and I am already
part of their canoe competition.
Another advice that I would give you is that if you are in the process of choosing a career
dont start by looking at the salaries because thats probably what your bank account wants, not
your heart.

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Appendices

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11 Civil Engineering: Is it worth the pain?


Appendix A
Bachelor of Science Civil Engineering
Degree Plan (Checklist)
A Core Curriculum (48 SCH)
(minimum of "C" grade required)

Semester Final
Sub
Completed Grade SCH #

1 Communication (9 credit hours required)


ENGL 1311*

Expos. English Composition

ENGL 1312*

Research & Critical Writing

COMM 1302* or 1301* Business/Profession. Comm.


2 Mathematics (4)
MATH 1411*

Calculus I
3 Natural Science (7)

CHEM 1305*+1105*

General Chemistry

CHEM 1306*

General Chemistry

4 Humanities (3)
Circle one:
ENGL 2311*, 2312*, 2313*, 2314*, 2318*,
HIST 2301*, 2302*, PHIL 1301*, 2306*
5 Visual and Performing Arts
(3) Circle one:
ART 1300*, ARTH 1305*, 1306*, DANC 1304*,
MUSL 1321*, 1324*, 1327*, THEA 1313*, FILM 1390*
6 U.S. History (6)
HIST 1301*

History of the U.S. to 1865

HIST 1302*

History of the U.S. since 1865

7 Political Science (6) -- all 6 SCH must be completed at the same institution
POLS 2310*

Introduction to Politics

POLS 2311*

American Govt. & Politics


8 Social and Behavioral Sciences (3)

CE 2326*

Econ. For Engrs & Scientists

9 Institutionally Designated Option


(3) Circle one:
UNIV 1301* or UNIV 2350*

B Foundational

SCH)

1312*

II

2313*

III

2326*
2420*

Equations
Mechanics

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SCH)
1205*

Design

2315* Statics
2334*

Materials

2377*

2342)

2338*

2340)

2375*

Science

2341*

3352)

SCH)
3313

Measurements

3325

Fundamentals

3335

3321)

3336

Materials

3343

3345

3373
3456

3373)
Engineering

4153

Laboratory

4188

4195

Orientation

4288

II

4334

4340

Engineering

4342

Engineering

4348

Engineering

4361

II

4375

4376

II

SUBSTITUTIONS**
on
plan
#
Example

1205

it
where
taken

Transcript
13TR

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Appendix B
Interview Questions
How did you know that you wanted to become a civil engineer? Why?
When you started college, did you want to get a bachelors degree or was your goal achieving a
higher degree? Why?
What lessons did you learn in college that made you better prepared for your career as an
engineer?
What qualities does a student need to achieve in order to be successful in his or her career as a
civil engineer?
What qualities does a civil engineer have that other types of engineers dont have?
What experiences have you had during your career as an engineer?
Which one(s) have you learned the most from?
What did you learn out of them?
What mistakes do you think that most engineers make?
Have you make any of those?
Have you made any other mistakes that you wish you had not made?
Which organizations were you involved in?
What things would you do different if you could go back in time to college?
What things did you not do that you wish you had done in college or during those years?
Which education did you have that made you obtain the position of a project manager in a
Construction site?

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Appendix C
Survey Questions
Question 1: What is your rank or classification?
Question 2: How hard do you think that Civil Engineering is in the aspect of homework,
studying, and classes?
Question 3: Evaluate the following statements: Engineering is the hardest college out of all,
UTEP is one of the best universities in the U.S. for engineering, and everybody fails at one point
of their academic career in Civil Engineering.
Question 4: Rate the quality of Civil Engineering Professors at UTEP, Civil Engineering classes
at UTEP, and student engagement in the Civil Engineering department.
Question 5: How important do you consider are study groups in order to achieve a GPA bigger
that or equal to 3.5?
Question 6: Do you agree with this image?

Question 7: Why did you choose to study Civil Engineering?

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Appendix D
Survey Results
Question 1: What is your rank or classification?

4
3.5
3
2.5
Number of people that
answered the survey

2
1.5
1
0.5
0
Freshman

Sophomore

Junior

Senior

Question 2: How hard do you think that Civil Engineering is in the aspect of homework,
studying, classes?

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8
7
6
5
Normal

Hard
Really Hard

3
2
1
0
Homework

Studying

Classes

Question 3: Evaluate the following statements: Engineering is the hardest college out of all,
UTEP is one of the best universities in the U.S. for engineering, and everybody fails at one point
of their academic career in Civil Engineering.

Strongly agree

Engineering is the hardest


college out of all.

Agree
Neither disagree nor agree

UTEP is one of the best


universities in the U.S. for
Engineering.

Disagree
Srongly Disagree

Everybody fails at one point of


their academic career in Civil
Engineering.
0

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Question 4: Rate the quality of Civil Engineering Professors at UTEP, Civil Engineering classes
at UTEP, and student engagement in the Civil Engineering department.
4.5
4
3.5
3
2.5

Poor

Average

1.5

Good

Very Good

0.5
0
Civil Engineering Civil Engineering
Student
Professors at
classes at UTEP. Engagement in the
UTEP.
Civil Engineering
department.

Question 5: How important do you consider are study groups in order to achieve a GPA bigger
that or equal to 3.5?

How important are study groups in order


to achieve a 3.5 or higher GPA?

Very Important

Important

Somewhat Important
0

Number of students

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Question 6: Do you agree with this image?

Do you agree with this image?


4.5
4
3.5
3
2.5
Number of students

2
1.5
1
0.5
0
Strongly agree

Agree

Disagree

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Question 7: Why did you choose to study Civil Engineering?


Response 1: Its my dream since I was a little kid.
Response 2: Civil Engineering is more hands on.
Response 3: Not really sure but I really like it now.
Response 4: This is what I like the most; I cant imagine myself studying anything else.
Response 5: Interested in construction.
Response 6: Its the closest to environmental engineering in the undergraduate programs
at UTEP.
Response 7: Because this has always been my dream since I was a little kid.
Response 8: Because its cool.

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Appendix E

Site Observation #1
Date

Begin Time

End Time

11/03/14

5:50 p.m.

6:50 p.m.

# People at site
(demographic info.)
37 students in total
(32 men and 5
women), and 1
professor.

Place
Business Building, Room
332

Physical layout of the site and the description of it.


There was not any furniture in the classroom other than desks. There were also three boards in
the front of the classroom, and most chairs were empty. The students seemed to like the topic of
the class and they actually pay attention. Most students had laptops and some others had
notebooks. There is a project going on, so students had to get on groups.

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Observations

The students already in the classroom are talking


like they know each other very well.
Some students are speaking in English but most of
them are talking in Spanish.
As soon as the students get to their seats, they are
opening either a laptop or a notebook.
Everybody got quiet as soon as he started talking.
He starts to talk about the project of the centennial
plaza that is being done at UTEP and he surprises
everybody by telling us the price of the project
which was 10 million at first but it went up to 15
million.
Most students have something to write with.
He doesnt get mad at people coming late.
Most people are sitting on the back.
I see one girl texting.
The professor really looks like he enjoys what he
is doing.
The professor is really funny, but still
professional. Everybody laughs at his jokes.
Some people stood up to pick a package of sheets,
a project that they have to do in groups.
Most students are taking the project serious, while
some others are laughing.
The professor is using his phone and some
students stood up to ask him questions.
There are about 10 groups within the students.
Some students are looking at me; maybe they are
wondering what I am doing there.
The professor is now reading some papers.
Some groups divided the papers of the project to
read separately.
The only group of two looks lost.

Reflections

Since most people are sitting


on the back, I wonder if it is
because the classroom is in a
position that students
wouldnt be that far away
from the professor even if
they were sitting on the back.
I wonder why there is not
anybody asking questions or
participating.
I wonder if the students that
stood up are the leaders of
the groups.
I wonder if the students
laughing are doing the work.
Maybe the students looking
at me are wondering what I
am doing here.
I wonder if all of the students
are studying a Bachelors of
Science in Civil Engineering,
or if they are taking the class
for some other purpose.
I wonder at what time this
class ends.
Why is there a group of two?
Most groups have four or
more students in them.
Why are they taking the
class this late? Is it because
they work?
It is very nice to see most
people engaged in the
project.

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Appendix F
Document
JOB POSTING
Civil Engineering Heading Back To The Future
January 31, 2001 By Jeffrey Steele.
You can't have civilization without civil engineering."
That saying, popular among civil engineers, is as true today as it was when the Roman
aqueducts were built. According to James E. Davis, executive director of the Reston, Va.-based
American Society of Civil Engineers, and civil engineering is experiencing a golden era to rival
the mid-1950s, when the Federal Highway Defense Act launched America's interstate highway
system.
"Move ahead 40 years and a lot of those original guys are retiring," Davis said. "What's
happening now is the supply [of civil engineers] is down, and the demand is increasing. There's a
need to rebuild America's infrastructure."
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, civil engineering is the third largest
branch of engineering in terms of employment, after electrical and mechanical engineering.
About half of all civil engineers work for companies that produce designs for new
construction projects. Some work in government positions, while still others are selfemployed consultants.
There are seven major branches of civil engineering: construction, environmental,
geotechnical, structural, transportation, urban and community planning and water resources
engineering.

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They rely on computers in the production and analysis of designs, and in simulating how
a structure will perform when finished. Working as part of an interdisciplinary team, civil
engineers frequently consult with specialists in other occupations to solve problems.
In many engineering-degree programs at the college level, students study basic sciences,
mathematics and introductory engineering courses during their first two years, then concentrate
in a specific area in their last two years.
Because future civil engineers will lead design and construction teams on a variety of
public structures, "leadership skills will be needed," Davis said.
For more information:
American Society of Civil Engineers at 800-548-2723 or www.asce.org. The Illinois section of
the American Society of Civil Engineers can be reached at www.mcs.com/isasce.
CIVIL ENGINEER
Median salary: $53,450 in 1998
Education/training: Bachelor's degree; master's or doctorate optional College degree, seminary
school.
Outlook: 36 percent or more growth through 2008.

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Appendix G
Data Coding Chart
Ethos

Logos

Pathos

Education/
Training

(I1 Q3)Whatever the


professors (in civil
engineering) are teaching
you is mostly from their
practical experience, so read
from the book.

(I3 Q7) You learn the


most out of the
projects that fail. (I3
Q6) In college you
design a perfect
project but in real life
it might not work.

(I2 Q1) A career is based on


opportunities, never say no.
You dont get the same
opportunities twice.

Qualities/
Abilities

(I2 Q3) You have to be a


respectable person and
respect people and treat
them like they are important.

(I3 Q5) There are not


any significant
differences between a
civil engineer and
other types of
engineers.

(S1 Q7) This question raised


answers like "it was my dream
since I was a little kid." and
"this is what I like the most, I
can't imagine myself studying
anything else."

(I2 Q3)
Communication is
very important. When
you are asked to
communicate and
also that you allow
people know what is
going on by
communicating.

(I3 Q9) People often dont pay


attention as much as engineers
did fifty years ago when they
had to work everything with
the pencil, because when you
think about this when you
work with a pencil you have
to think every time that the
pencil moves but with the
computer you use a lot of
software and you dont always
have to think.

(I3 Q10) You benefit


from making
mistakes, because you
remember them.

(I3 Q6) Dr. Marshall's work as


a civil engineer took him all
over around the world like
Vietnam, Korea, Paraguay,
Colombia, Saudi Arabia,
Somalia, Egypt, and Nigeria,
in between others.

Skills

(I3 Q15) A civil engineer


has to be someone that can
demonstrate that can think
enough to design a building
without risking the lives of
many people.

Experience

(D1) Civil engineers have to


know how to work as part of
an interdisciplinary team.
"Civil engineers frequently
consult with specialists in
other occupations to solve
problems", so it means that
even with all of the
experience of the world,
civil engineers still need
help from others.

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References Page
Building a Global Icon. (2013, January 1). Retrieved November 5, 2014, from
http://www.burjkhalifa.ae/en/TheTower/Construction.aspx
Civil Engineering. (N.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2014, from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_engineering
Faculty Directory. (N.d.). Retrieved November 1, 2014, from
http://ce.utep.edu/contactdirectory-ce.htm
Steele, J. (2001, January 31). Civil Engineering Heading Back To The Future. Retrieved
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