You have some excellent points and I certainly appreciate the input from an academic perspective. I do have a few items I would like to add though.
1) I didn't necessarily mean an MS is needed to take the PE. I meant a young structural engineer is not adequately trained and cannot demonstrate a minimal competency for an engineering license without the addition of more classes than are currently taught at a BS level (semantics, I know). This may not be the case with all disciplines but from my perspective, the Civil Structural exam personifies many of the topics you've discussed. First and foremost, the exam has nothing to do with putting a building together, but more about solving simple statics, indeterminate, materials, and design problems. It brings to mind exactly what you described as "students not knowing a beam is something more than a line on a circle and a triangle." I don't recall seeing any questions concerning complex system design on this exam.
2) I think an accelerated 5 year MS would be an excellent compromise. I don't think students should have to toil away forever to pursue their career but I do expect ALL of our hires to have some understanding of the 4 main construction materials (wood, steel, concrete, and masonry). Though it could be argued that masonry is similar to concrete on the LRFD design side, new employees are going to struggle and frustrate me without an in depth understanding of at least concrete. More often than not, BS grads barely understand how to design concrete columns due to the interaction of axial and bending loads.
3) I would argue that finite element analysis understanding is imperative for 2 reasons. First, I do not want to be teaching new hires finite element methods. Second, I don't want my engineers using finite element programs without understanding how they work.
4) The steel professor probably needs to split his material across 2 classes. Not only could he cover the valuable material you described, but he could add even more like gusset connections and special seismic detailing. This would be perfect for the 5 year MS program. It would also prepare grads for the SE exam. I was poorly prepared for special seismic detailing due to performing all of my engineering on the east coast out of high seismic areas.
5) Wood design is the most different from the other materials due to its anisotropic properties. This is not something I want to spend my time teaching new hires either. I already have my hands full with metal studs, aluminum, and more in depth design with the common materials.
6) I agree that students are sorely lacking in critical thinking skills. I would disagree this is solely academia's fault. To some extent it may be due to the fact that academia does not cull enough students, but my take on this is generational. I believe the lack of critical thinking skills is largely due to a fear of failure. Young college grads are afraid to try anything they don't fully understand due to their sheltered upbringing and parents not instilling basic societal knowledge into their children. In other words, "It's OK to fail as long as you learn from it and not everyone gets a trophy."
Again, I appreciate the feedback and rather than continue to post my gripes I am going to list off what I believe to be the most important classes to young structural grads (obviously beyond the math courses required to understand these concepts).
2)Mechanics of materials - basic indeterminate structures
3)Structural Analysis - indeterminate structural analysis methods such as moment distribution, integration method, Bernoulli and Timoshenko beam theory, etc...
3)Wood/timber design - incorporating shear walls, connections, lateral torsional buckling, and basic column design
4)Steel design - incorporating all of the items mentioned in your post and adding special seismic detailing at a minimum
5)Concrete design - incorporating shear walls, beams, T-beams, torsion, shear, punching shear, slabs, interactions at column/beam joints, and special seismic detailing.
6)Masonry design - basic column, pilaster, beam, and shear design while incorporating special seismic detailing.
7)Finite element methods - at least a basic understanding of how stiffness matrices are constructed and solved given the different end restraints.
These items would produce a perfect hire for me right out of college but sadly much less than half of this knowledge is present in graduates with a BS degree and many with an MS lack a significant portion of these qualities. Given the current restrictions upon academia, I don't see how the above items could be covered in a satisfactory manner without the addition of at least a 5 year accelerated MS program.