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An On Line Course To Help Engineers (Students And Professionals) Develop Interpersonal Skills – You’re Kidding, Right?

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Technology-Enhanced Learning

Tagged Division

Continuing Professional Development

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.170.1 - 15.170.10



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Paper Authors


Eugene Rutz University of Cincinnati

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Eugene is an Academic Director in the College of Engineering and Applied Science where he manages programs for traditional undergraduates and for working professionals. Eugene has also taught distance learning courses for 10 years in a variety of modalities. He has a PE license and has industry experience as a mechanical design engineer and a field service engineer.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

An On-line Course to Help Engineers (Students and Professionals) Develop Interpersonal Skills – You’re Kidding, Right?


An on-line course was developed to serve the needs of specific learners. Course material is presented using text, videos, and readings. Student interaction with the instructor is primarily through email while student-to-student interaction is facilitated using an on-line discussion board. Assessments include reflective writings, on-line tests, and quantification of participation in the discussion board. Student evaluations indicate that the course is effective at enabling students to improve interpersonal skills and meet specific ABET program criteria. Evaluations also indicate that students consider the on-line learning experience to be as good as a traditional classroom experience.

Context for the Course

The College of Engineering & Applied Science has two new programs that serve non-traditional audiences and require presentation of courses through non-traditional means. The first is a combined Bachelor of Science in an engineering discipline with a Master of Business Administration program for high achieving students and the second is a Master of Engineering program targeted to working professionals. For the combined Bachelors / MBA program, students often need to take a course while on a co-operative work assignment. Since many of these assignments are away from the university, a distance learning format is required. Likewise for working professionals, a distance learning format facilitates participation.

The course “Effectiveness in Technical Organizations” was developed to meet the content needs of these two programs. Engineering students in the combined bachelors / MBA program benefit from a course that introduces topics they will see in greater depth in the MBA program. Technical professionals in the workforce who have never had a course on organizational effectiveness can gain insights and skills through such a course, particularly one that is framed around technical organizations. While it may seem counterintuitive to provide such a course in a distance learning format, this is required to reach these student groups.

Course Description and Topics

The overarching goal of the course “Effectiveness in Technical Organizations” is to improve a technical professional’s ability to contribute to a business organization through improvement in non-technical skills. The course was specifically developed to facilitate interpersonal skill development in the context of a technical organization so the examples, topics and discussions would be relevant to this specific population.

The course is presented in four distinct modules. Module 1 - Assessment of skills and aptitude. This module includes these topics: ≠ Learning styles1

Rutz, E. (2010, June), An On Line Course To Help Engineers (Students And Professionals) Develop Interpersonal Skills – You’re Kidding, Right? Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15720

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