Virtually Hosted by the section
November 12, 2021
November 12, 2021
November 13, 2021
A Pilot Interdisciplinary Robotic Mentorship Project to Study Engineering Soft Skill Development
As the complexity and diversity of general engineering practices continue to increase, it is becoming apparent that simply providing technical knowledge within the chosen discipline is insufficient to prepare our engineering students for related employment opportunities. The engineering workforce today is expected to perform effectively in a multi-disciplinary environment, underlining the importance of soft skills that include interdisciplinary communication, teamwork and leadership. Despite the increasing awareness, the gap between graduates’ soft skills prepared by academics and those required in the job force stays significant, if not continues to widen. In collaboration between the engineering and education departments at XXXXXX, a robotics mentorship program was designed as a platform to foster soft skill development of engineering students. The program entails participation from three groups: mechanical and electrical engineering students, adolescence mathematics teacher candidates, and high school students in an after-school robotics club. A two-semester pilot project was conducted for feasibility study, comprising weekly planning and training between engineering students and adolescence mathematics teacher candidates at XXXXXX. Furthermore, a resulting workshop series to mentor the robotics club at XXXXXX High School in XXXXXX School District was developed to cover topics from CAD and microcontroller to engineering notebook and experience in robotics competition. Even though the execution was abruptly interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in the first semester and completely moved to online in the second semester, survey and interview data was collected on five undergraduate engineering students and three mathematics teacher candidates, which offer encouraging qualitative evidence of their soft skills development, particularly for the engineering mentors. In this presentation, we will introduce the collaborative mentorship program and the differentiating design considerations, then discuss the results with focus on: 1) the journey of these engineering students as they collaborate with mathematics teacher candidates and serve as mentors in the afterschool program, 2) the impact of the interdisciplinary model on fostering their soft skills, and 3) lessons learned from this pilot project and the plans for broader study in the next phase.
Huang, W., & Wang, P., & Pearl, S. (2021, November), A Pilot Interdisciplinary Robotic Mentorship Project to Study Engineering Soft Skill Development Paper presented at 2021 Fall ASEE Middle Atlantic Section Meeting, Virtually Hosted by the section. https://peer.asee.org/38420
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