Asee peer logo

Assessing Engineering Global Competencies – Importance and Preparation

Download Paper |


2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Global Competency and What Makes a Successful Engineer

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

23.209.1 - 23.209.20



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Robert J. Gustafson Ohio State University

visit author page

Dr. Robert J. Gustafson, P.E., is Honda professor for Engineering Education and director of the Engineering Education Innovation Center in the College of Engineering and a Professor of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Ohio State University. He has previously served at Ohio State as associate dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Services (1999-2008) and department chair of Food Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department (1987-1999). After being awarded his Ph.D. from Michigan State in 1974, he joined the faculty of the Agricultural Engineering Department at the University of Minnesota where he served until 1987.

visit author page

author page

Miriam Regina Simon Ohio State University

Download Paper |


Draft 9‐18‐12  Assessing Engineering Global Competencies – Importance and PreparationIn the last decade and a half, there has been particular interest in globalization and preparation ofundergraduate engineers for the practice of engineering in a global context. The goals of thestudy reported here were to 1) determine the relative importance of a defined set of eightcompetencies related to the practice of engineering in a global context, 2) determine theperceived level of preparation of recent engineering graduates related to the competencies, 3)collect suggestions for improvement from constituencies, and 4) gather both information aboutcurrent company practices and employment conditions for recent graduates. By seeking ratingsof both importance and preparation, a unique gap analysis can be done and used to set prioritiesfor curriculum change. The eight competencies were arrived at by review of competencies fromrecent studies reported in the literature for engineering and those defined by our own Office ofInternational Affairs for all students of the University. They include: 1. Understanding of global cultural diversities and their impact on engineering decisions. 2. Ability to deal with ethical issues arising from cultural or national differences. 3. Proficiency in a second language. 4. Ability to communicate across cultural and linguistic boundaries. 5. Proficiency in working in an ethnically and culturally diverse team. 6. Understanding of the connectedness of the world and the workings of the global economy. 7. Understanding of the international aspects of engineering topics such as supply chain management, intellectual property, liability and risk, market and product design considerations, and business practices. 8. Familiarity with the history, government, and economic system of several target countries.Surveys were conducted using three populations: 1) 2-3 year engineering alumni, 2) 10-15 yearengineering alumni, and 3) members of the departmental and college advisory committees.Respondents were asked to rank, using a Likert type scale, the eight competencies for bothimportance and preparation. From this a gap or difference was calculated.Summary observations include: Sequence of importance ratings shows some difference of opinion between groups. However all three rated highly both: 7. Understanding of the international aspects of engineering… and 5. Proficiency in working in … diverse team. Two of the three groups highly rated 6. Understanding of the connectedness…. The lowest two for all three were: 3. Proficiency in a foreign language and 8. Familiarity with the history…. Sequence for gap or difference (Importance-Preparation) ratings also shows some similarities and some differences. All three groups showed the largest gap, by some margin, for: 7. Understanding of the international aspects of engineering…. Across groups the next largest gaps would be 6. Understanding of the connectedness of the world… and 4. Ability to communicate across cultural and linguistic boundaries.Project teams (both within classes and from extra-curricular) were by far the most frequentlymentioned item in open-ended responses regarding what impacts global competency. Whencombined with design courses, it is clear that the experiential learning components of theengineering curriculum play a major role in global competency. The formal curriculum, generalDraft 9‐18‐12 education and specific major and minor courses, also plays a significant role in attainment ofglobal competency.

Gustafson, R. J., & Simon, M. R. (2013, June), Assessing Engineering Global Competencies – Importance and Preparation Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19223

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2013 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015