Graduate Attributes

Your degree in Civil Engineering from UBC is the first step on your path to becoming a licensed Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) in Canada. The Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board seeks to assure graduates of our program meet the academic requirements for P.Eng. and they possess twelve attributes that set graduates up for success in their careers as engineers. In our department, we assess students based on a set of indicators, or “attribute components,” throughout the courses in the Civil Engineering Curriculum.

Also available for download in PDF format.

1. Knowledge Base

Demonstrated competence in university level mathematics, natural sciences, engineering fundamentals, and specialized engineering knowledge appropriate to the program.

1.1 Mathematics knowledge baseUnderstands mathematics as relevant to the broad field of engineering.
1.2 Natural science knowledge baseUnderstands physical sciences, life sciences and earth sciences as relevant to civil engineering.
1.3 Engineering science knowledge baseUnderstands the areas of engineering science that support the broad field of engineering beyond civil engineering.
1.4 Civil engineering knowledge baseUnderstands areas of engineering science that relate to civil engineering, including the behaviour of fluids, soils, materials and structures. (*Note: this indicator relies on 7 sub-indicators.)

1.4.1 Construction Engineering
1.4.2 Environmental Engineering
1.4.3 Geotechnical Engineering
1.4.4 Hydrotechnical Engineering
1.4.5 Materials Engineering
1.4.6 Structural Engineering
1.4.7 Transportation Engineering

2. Problem Analysis

An ability to use appropriate knowledge and skills to identify, formulate, analyze, and solve complex engineering problems in order to reach substantiated conclusions.

2.1 Formulate problemsDemonstrates the ability to formulate civil engineering problems.
2.2 Analyze and solve problemsDemonstrates the ability to analyze and solve engineering problems.
2.3 Evaluation solutionsDemonstrates the ability to evaluate the validity and reliability of solutions to civil engineering problems.

3. Investigation

An ability to conduct investigations of complex problems by methods that include appropriate experiments, analysis and interpretation of data, and synthesis of information in order to reach valid conclusions.

3.1 Plan investigationPlans investigations, including formulating assumptions and constraints, and developing approaches and methodologies for information and data gathering, analyses and/or experimentation.
3.2 Collect dataUses appropriate procedures to collect and analyze data, including through experimentation.
3.3 Interpret resultsSynthesizes data, interprets results, reaches valid conclusions, and appraises conclusions.

4. Design

An ability to design solutions for complex, open-ended engineering problems and to design systems, components or processes that meet specified needs with appropriate attention to health and safety risks, applicable standards, and economic, environmental, cultural and societal considerations.

4.1 Plan investigationUnderstands and identifies the context and elements of the design process, including objectives, constraints, stages and level of detail.
4.2 Collect dataFormulates a design statement, including design criteria as relating to applicable standards and regulatory requirements, health and safety risks, and technical, economic, environmental, cultural and societal considerations.
4.3 Interpret resultsUndertakes the detailed design of a component or element of a civil engineering project that requires a focus on criteria relating to one or more civil engineering sub-disciplines.
4.4 Comprehensive designUndertakes the conceptual and detailed designs of a civil engineering project, involving multiple sub-disciplines and a broad range of design criteria.

5. Use of engineering tools

An ability to create, select, apply, adapt, and extend appropriate techniques, resources, and modern engineering tools to a range of engineering activities, from simple to complex, with an understanding of the associated limitations.

5.1 Drawing and visualization toolsIs able to select, apply and adapt drawing and visualization tools with respect to civil engineering applications.
5.2 Programming toolsIs able to develop, apply and adapt programming tools with respect to civil engineering applications.
5.3 Modelling toolsIs able to select, apply and adapt modelling and simulation tools with respect to civil engineering applications.
5.4 Measurement toolsIs able to select and apply measurement equipment, instrumentation and methods with respect to civil engineering applications.

6. Individual and teamwork

An ability to work effectively as a member and leader in teams, preferably in a multi-disciplinary setting.

6.1 ParticipationHas the ability to participate effectively in a team so as to assure team functioning, including managing attendance, inter-personal relationships and conflict resolution.
6.2 ResponsibilityHas the ability to contribute effectively to meeting a team’s objectives, including prioritizing competing demands, managing equitable workloads and assuring effective team deliverables.
6.3 RolesHas the ability to lead a team effectively, as well as to relinquish leadership and take on other team roles effectively.

7. Communication skills

An ability to communicate complex engineering concepts within the profession and with society at large. Such ability includes reading, writing, speaking and listening, and the ability to comprehend and write effective reports and design documentation, and to give and effectively respond to clear instructions.

7.1 ComprehensionUnderstands, interprets and responds to oral, written, graphical and visual communications, including instructions, reports and design documentation.
7.2 WritingWrites and revises documents according to specific guidelines, including written arguments and engineering reports.
7.3 PresentationsIs effective in public speaking and making visual presentations directed to multiple stakeholders including the public.

8. Professionalism

An understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the professional engineer in society, especially the primary role of protection of the public and the public interest.

8.1 Professional engineeringDemonstrates knowledge of the development and regulation of professional engineering in Canada, the concept of self-regulation, the roles of EGBC, and the roles of engineers with respect to the protection of the public and the public interest.
8.2 Professional conductDemonstrates professional behaviour as arising from Codes of Conduct and the EGBC Code of Ethics.
8.3 Regulations, approvals, and legal aspectsBe able to demonstrate knowledge of legal and regulatory factors, including contract and tort law, professional liability and insurance, risk management and dispute resolution, codes and standards, and project approval processes that rely on the foregoing and on consultation and engagement mechanisms.
8.4 Health and safetyDemonstrates knowledge and apply approaches to assuring workplace and public health and safety, including though the development of civil engineering projects.

9. Impact of engineering on society and the environment

An ability to analyze social and environmental aspects of engineering activities. Such ability includes an understanding of the interactions that engineering has with the economic, social, health, safety, legal, and cultural aspects of society, the uncertainties in the prediction of such interactions; and the concepts of sustainable design and development and environmental stewardship.

9.1 Societal impactsIs able to identify and account for societal impacts of civil engineering projects, including economic, social, cultural, environmental and human health aspects.
9.2 Environmental impactsIs able to identify environmental impacts of civil engineering projects, and to demonstrate knowledge and apply engineering approaches to assuring protection of the environment.
9.3 Sustainability and environmental stewardshipDemonstrates the ability to apply the concepts of sustainability, sustainable development and environmental stewardship to civil engineering projects.

10. Ethics and equity

An ability to apply professional ethics, accountability and equity.

10.1 Ethical issuesDemonstrates knowledge of professional and societal ethical standards and issues, including the EGBC Code of Ethics, and to contribute to their resolution.
10.2 AccountabilityDemonstrates knowledge of accountability principles and issues in governance and the professional environment, including conflicts of interest and confidentiality requirements, and to contribute to their resolution.
10.3 Equity, diversity, and inclusionDemonstrates knowledge of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace and professional environment, and to contribute to their resolution.

11. Economics and project management

An ability to appropriately incorporate economics and business practices including project, risk, and change management into the practice of engineering and to understand their limitations.

11.1 Construction and project managementDemonstrates the ability to apply construction management skills, including costing, planning, scheduling, and safety analyses.
11.2 Engineering economicsDemonstrates knowledge and is able to apply economic analyses and related decision-making as relevant to civil engineering projects.
11.3 BusinessesDemonstrates knowledge of businesses, business principles and business practices as relevant to civil engineering.

12. Life-long learning

An ability to identify and to address their own educational needs in a changing world in ways sufficient to maintain their competence and to allow them to contribute to the advancement of knowledge.

12.1 Information sourcesIs able to locate, access and utilize relevant information sources as relating to civil engineering.
12.2 Self-directed learningIs able to evaluate critically and apply knowledge, methods and skills through self-identified sources and self-directed learning.

Achievement Levels

Learning activities associated with delivering each of these attributes are organized in a progression from introductory (I) through intermediate development (D) to advanced application (A) level. Over the four years of an engineering program:

  1. The depth and the complexity of the material increases
  2. The way the material is covered changes
  3. Expectations for success change
  4. How a student uses the material changes

Each of these attributes is instilled at three achievement levels over the duration of the program:

  1. Attributes are introduced in first- and second-year.
  2. They are further developed in second- and third-year.
  3. In third- and fourth-year, students reach the advanced application level.

Assessment Tools

Student achievements with respect to all the attributes / indicators are assessed through various assessment tools and feedback mechanisms as follows:

  1. Course-based assessment tools. These refer to such items as exam questions, peer evaluations, lab reports, student presentations, etc.  Assessment data of student performance with respect to all indicators is collected every year during the program corresponding to the three achievement levels.
  2. Surveys. These include surveys of students in years 2, 3 and 4, recent alumni and employers of graduates.  The surveys relate to student achievement with respect to the 12 attributes and are undertaken every year.
  3. Other forms of assessment and feedback. These include the students’ annual “Beef and Pizza” feedback, and every few years focus group discussions with students, representatives across UBC Engineering, and external stakeholders, and other reviews and inputs as may be relevant.

Continual Improvement

Each May, the Department’s Program Improvement Committee reviews all the inputs obtained over the preceding year, and considers potential improvements to the program and to the process. Such improvements may relate to

  1. Graduate Attributes/Indicator Coverage (i.e. changes to course coverage, assessment tools, etc. so as to improve instilling, assessing and reporting on certain attributes / indicators).
  2. Program Improvements (e.g. curriculum, sequencing and other changes across multiple courses, student support systems, facility improvements, etc.).
  3. Course-Specific Improvements.
  4. improvements to the Graduate Attributes / Continual Improvement Process itself (e.g. annual schedule, consultation arrangements, etc.). 

Following Department consideration and approval of a set of recommendations each summer, the Committee then seeks to assure the implementation of the various improvements that have been approved.

Graduate Attributes Dossier

Through a Graduate Attributes dossier, the Department maintains information on:

  • The various attributes and indicators.
  • Detailed course descriptions.
  • Curriculum maps showing the courses in which the various indicators are instilled and assessed at the different achievement levels, and showing the sub-set of courses in which assessment data is collected.
  • A list of the assessment tools that are deployed.
  • A full compendium of results arising from the various assessments.
  • Details of the GA/CI process; and the improvements that are considered and implemented each year.

Specific details are available upon request. Please direct any such enquiries to