Magazine article ASEE Prism

SEAN ST. CLAIR: Real-World Perspective

Magazine article ASEE Prism

SEAN ST. CLAIR: Real-World Perspective

Article excerpt

Sean St. Clair draws his inspiration as a teacher from a professor at Ricks College, a church-owned two-year school in rural Idaho where he earned an associate's degree. "He just had an infectious enthusiasm for the topics he was teaching," recalls St. Clair, who went on to earn a Ph.D. in civil engineering from Georgia Tech. "I became a professor so I could do that for other people." Evidently, he has." My students often tell me that they become excited about a course as a result of my enthusiasm," he says.

Before landing a job in 2004 at the teaching-focused Oregon Institute of Technology, where he is now a professor, St. Clair spent two years as a structural designer on high-end residential properties in Georgia. Fulfilling what were often "very intricate requests" from clients has proved useful in a civil engineering department with a mission of preparing professional engineers. During St. Clair's tenure as chair, the department has seen enrollment grow, pass rates rise for the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, and awards won by students and professors. It has also stayed ahead of the qualifications curve. While no state has yet adopted the American Society of Civil Engineers' Raise the Bar recommendation to require a master's degree as a prerequisite for licensure, a third of the department's students now opt to pursue a five-year, dual bachelor's and master's in civil engineering.

St. Clair's greatest challenge-and enjoyment-as a teacher come from reaching beyond curricular requirements and broadening his students' perspectives. …

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