In this episode, that is part of our Women in Civil Engineering (WICE) series, I talk to Eva Lantsoght, Ph.D., a Full Professor at San Francisco de Quito & Assistant Professor at the Delft University of Technology. We talk about civil engineering education and how it differs throughout several countries. Eva also touches on the impact of COVID-19 on education and provides some advice for engineers considering pursuing their studies and a Ph.D. later in their careers.
Here Are Some of the Questions I Ask Eva:
- How are the civil engineering education programs structured differently through the US, Ecuador, Belgium, and the Netherlands?
- What are some of the lessons you learned from teaching online since the pandemic?
- You have researched with a group of international colleagues on the impact of COVID-19 on academic parents. Please share with us what some of these outcomes were?
- What are some of the challenges you have faced of being a woman in the civil engineering industry?
- What are some of the differences in the status of candidates funding for a Ph.D. across different countries?
- What advice can you provide younger female engineers considering returning to the academic world to further their degrees?
- What can someone expect when they decide to do their Ph.D. later in their career, and what are some of the challenges and benefits of being a mid- or late-career student?
- What advice can you give young women in civil engineering looking to become a leader in their field?
Here Are Some Key Points Discussed in This Episode About Civil Engineering Education and Ph.D. Programs in Civil Engineering:
- There is a variety of philosophies when it comes to civil engineering education. Some countries teach things in the opposite order than in other countries. Some topics taught in normal Ph.D. courses in some countries can be moved to a master’s level in other countries. The length of the programs is also different depending on the country.
- Many campuses have been completely closed and teaching online for the duration of the pandemic. It caused a shift in the way the teaching is done. All physical teaching material had to be rethought and made into digital teaching material. The focus needed to shift from getting modules done to what can be achieved with the learners every semester. It brought about the importance of teaching the teachers how to teach online successfully.
- When going through a change, providing support, and putting in the time to develop and talk about how to teach best in an online environment is extremely important because it is vastly different from teaching in the classroom environment.
- It takes a lot longer to prepare for online classes. Consider how to get interaction with your students and how you will show the material effectively. People’s cognitive capacity is less because of the fatigue caused by sitting behind a screen all day.
- Moms and dads both have the same level of hardships in being academic parents. The mid-career faculty, the social professors, are experiencing the most pressure because they still need to do their research while trying to be there for the Ph.D. and masters’ students they supervise.
- You can experience feelings of not belonging as a woman in the civil engineering industry. It is caused by the civil engineering field being more male dominant. It can also happen when moving into the faculty sector because it too is more male dominant.
- The goal of graduating from any Ph.D. program is to show your committee that you can carry out research independently. The differences between the different countries are the status of the Ph.D. candidates. Some countries employ candidates, whereas some countries see the candidates as students. The content of the Ph.D. programs is also quite different across the different countries.
- The first thing to consider when you want to get your Ph.D. is what is motivating you. Many people want to get into the academic side of things, but the number of available academic positions is limited. Think of what a Ph.D. can do for you, what skills you will learn, and how the skills will serve you in your career. Consider your financial situation and see if it will still be beneficial for you to get your Ph.D.
- Mid-career people in the industry are interested in getting their Ph.D. in a part-time way, and the companies they work for sometimes compensate for it in some ways. It can cause your life to get a lot busier because you have your job to do, you need to study, do research, and still, have personal or family responsibilities. Be prepared that doing a part-time Ph.D. program can turn out to be a struggle.
- Young engineering students must listen to their inner voice and see what will suit them best. Follow your passions and dreams, and do not be burdened by other people’s perceptions.
More Details in This Episode…
About Eva Lantsoght, PhD
Dr. Lantsoght graduated with a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Vrije Universit in Brussels, Belgium, in 2008. She later earned a master’s degree in Structural Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology USA) in 2009 and obtained a title of Doctor in Structural Engineering from Technical University Delft (Delft, the Netherlands) in 2013. In the academic field, Dr. Lantsoght is a full professor at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (Quito, Ecuador) and a tenured assistant professor at Technical University Delft (Delft, Netherlands). The industry experience of Dr. Lantsoght includes design work in structural and bridge engineering in Belgium and working as an independent consultant in structural engineering in Ecuador. Dr. Lantsoght is an active member of the technical committees of the Transportation Research Board in Concrete Bridges and the Secretary of Testing and Evaluation of Transportation Structures. Her field of research is the design and analysis of concrete structures and existing bridges.
Books Mentioned in This Episode:
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To your success,
Christian Knutson, CEng, P.E., PgMP, FICE, F.SAME
Engineering Management Institute