June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
22.131.1 - 22.131.12
Academic Preparation for the Global EngineerOur university is located in a region where petrochemical industries are the major employer ofour engineering graduates. Since many of these manufacturing and/or processing facilities areowned by large muli-national corporations, engineers aspiring for advancement in thesecompanies must possess a skill set that assures success in a more global economic setting. Inorder to assess our responsiveness to the preparation of this “global engineer,” we sought to drawfrom a variety of sources: recent publications on this topic, and opinion sampling of both seniorengineers and aspiring junior engineers in typical multi-national companies.In published works, we found many proponents of global-engineer preparation who contend thatinitiatives considered non-traditional in engineering education are necessary for ensuring success.Among the often cited initiatives are requirements for mastery of a foreign language, a study abroadexperience, and increased cultural sensitivity through more humanities courses. Although we generallyagree that these are each worthwhile goals, we examined the more pragmatic aspects each and found eachto have limitations that call into question its application.Our initial informal sampling of engineers in the global engineer setting did not support the threeinitiatives cited in our publications review. Indeed, we found a much different perspective that promptedus to use a more formal survey to assess their opinions on what skills are needed for the success of theglobal engineer. We are aware of the ASEE initiative that recently launched a comprehensive survey ofengineers in several languages to identify the skills and experiences that today’s engineers will require tocompete in the global workforce. However, our survey goal was more focused on the relevance for theglobal engineer of current and proposed curriculum changes. We report these findings and contrast themto the recommendations produced by our publications review.We also introduce our initiatives to incorporate communication skills into the engineering curriculum andto enhance teamwork skills at multiple levels of the curriculum. We conclude that resource and practicallimitations make mastery of a foreign language, study abroad, and additional humanities courses difficultto achieve for most engineering programs. We also conclude that focusing on our current initiatives tostrengthen communication and teamwork skills produces more cost effective results for a widerengineering student population than fundamental changes to the existing curriculum.
Waggenspack, W. N., & Hull, W. R., & Bowles, D., & Liggett, S., & Sears, S. O. (2011, June), Academic Preparation for the Global Engineer Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. https://peer.asee.org/17412
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