History of CE 401

In 1981, Mr. Cheeks assumed responsibility with his business partner Tom Gorman for the conduct and content of CE-401, Civil Engineering Seminar. Mr Cheeks and Mr. Gorman made their original proposal to their former advisor and Department Chair, Dr. Vince P. Drnevich.  Dr. Drnevich recognized the value of bringing practicing engineers into the classroom to share their practice based experience with the senior class of Civil Engineers and advocated a change in teaching responsibility for the course and changes to the official catalog description to accommodate the proposed new content.

Initially, Messers Gorman and Cheeks used a team teaching approach to guide student teams through a semester long case study.  Each week, the students confronted a non-technical challenge in a fictitious business or project setting.  Over the course of the semester, students learned about marketing, public relations, human resource management, client relations, negotiations, contracting procedures, and dispute resolution.

In the late 1980s, Mr. Gorman left Lexington to pursue other business opportunities, and Mr. Cheeks continued his work with CE-401.  Mr. Cheeks has served as an adjunct professor and lead CE-401 at the pleasure of several Department Chairs since Dr. Drnevich. Of course, the approach used in the seminar required a significant change with the loss of Mr. Gorman and the shift to a single leader for the seminar.

Over the years, the course has continued to evolve, and the approach and content change with each new mix of students and current events.  In the early 2000's, Mr. Cheeks modified the seminar approach to one based largely on in-class discussions guided to the extent possible by the Socratic Method he learned while a student in the College of Law.  Today, the seminar is undergoing third major updating by moving many activities that formerly occurred during the 1 hour 50 minute class sessions (videos, quizzes and other activities) to on-line activities prior to in-class contact. This will enable a large reduction in the length of in-class contact.

The course has two major segments today:  Professional Responsibilities and Professional Practice within the context of the current legal environment.

With respect to the Professional Responsibilities, the students examine professional duty, ethical duty, and ethical decision-making.  This segment of the class culminates with an essay assignment which gives the students an opportunity to apply the Josephson Institute of Ethics' decision-making model to an ethical delimma that may occur in engineering practice.  Furthermore, the students can use the assignment to exercise their writing skills.

With respect to Professional Practices within the legal landscape, the students explore the US legal system, the law of contracts and tort law, with a specific focus on negligence and professional liability.  These discussions naturally lead to loss prevention and dispute resolution, culminating in a two week Conflict Resolution Workshop. 

 

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