Bringing professional experience into the classroom - Faculty experiences

Karen Chou*, Deborah Nykanen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


For over two decades, ASCE has been advocating bringing faculty members to the work place to gain professional experience so that he/she could incorporate the experience into the classroom. While this is a wonderful concept, very few faculty members especially the young, non-tenured ones have taken advantage of the opportunity. The primary obstacle was believed to be the "publish or perish" criterion for tenure and promotion. This is especially true for those research focused institutions. Today, "publish or perish" is still believed to be the obstacle for the lack of faculty members working in the professional field while holding a full time faculty appointment. The first author was a young faculty member two decades ago who used that exact reason for not seeking a summer engineering position while holding a faculty position. Two years ago, the first author had an opportunity to join a local architect firm as a part time structural engineer. The experience both personally and professionally is well beyond expectation. The second author also had an opportunity to work with a civil engineering firm during one summer. Her experience was significantly different from the first author. In this paper, the authors will summarize the benefits of their experience which have been used to enhance students' learning, from the freshmen introduction to civil engineering class to the senior capstone design project. In addition, the authors will offer their perspective as a faculty-engineer and the factors influencing the effectiveness of this "dual" position. "Publish and perish" is not the only reason why so few faculty members are interested in this "dual" position. The support from engineering professionals is also very important. The owners of the firms must have genuine interest in having the faculty member incorporate his/her professional experience into the classroom to enhance student learning. They also need to be supportive of the faculty member and, in particular, be willing to accommodate a flexible work schedule.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2009
Event2009 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Austin, TX, United States
Duration: Jun 14 2009Jun 17 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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