Work in Progress: The Strategic Importance of Data Science in Civil Engineering: Encouraging Interest in the Next Generation Conference Proceeding uri icon



  • Over the last decades, the increased availability of data has significantly changed civil engineering practice. A wide range of jobs in virtually all sectors demand computing and data analysis skills to an unprecedented extent. Unfortunately, students from civil engineering often lack programming skills and the motivation to acquire competencies in data analysis. The intuition driving this research is that the approach currently used to teach data science in civil engineering is failing to gain the interest of students. This study has two objectives: (1) to explore the attitudes and beliefs of civil engineering students towards data science and (2) to propose pedagogical activities aimed at integrating data science into undergraduate civil engineering courses. Toward the first objective, an instrument was developed using items adapted from the Computing Attitudes Survey (CAS) and the Engineering Professional Responsibility Assessment (EPRA). The survey was administered to civil engineering students, with responses received primarily from senior-level students. An exploratory factor analysis of the survey responses identified five factors related to computing attitudes, professional connectedness, data science value, abilities in data science, and importance of skills in engineering. The analysis of specific survey items found that students’ perception of the importance of data analysis is likely lower than that of professionals and employers. These baseline survey results are promising to use the instrument after interventions that target computing and data science issues in civil engineering, tied to social issues. To address this misalignment between students’ perceptions and industry needs, we propose the development of pedagogical activities integrating the capabilities of data science with the social responsibility of civil engineers in undergraduate courses. Future research is needed to gather additional student response data and to deploy and pilot the proposed pedagogical activities and evaluate their impact on students’ perceptions.

publication date

  • June 26, 2022

Date in CU Experts

  • December 1, 2022 4:47 AM

Full Author List

  • Bielefeldt A; Torres-Machi C; Lv Q

author count

  • 3