Asee peer logo

Assessing Intercultural Competence Among Sophomore Mechanical Engineering Students: Baseline Data And Analysis

Download Paper |


2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Global Engineering Education: Intercultural Awareness and International Experience

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

15.202.1 - 15.202.8



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Juila Thompson Purdue University

visit author page

Julia Thompson is a Ph.D. student in Engineering Education at Purdue University. She has a B.S. Degree in Chemical Engineering from University of California, Berkeley. Her research interest includes the linkage between technical and non-technical course work, particularly in the areas of globalization, woman studies, energy and environmental issues.

visit author page


Brent Jesiek Purdue University

visit author page

Brent Jesiek is assistant professor in Engineering Education and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University. Dr. Jesiek holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Michigan Tech and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Science and Technology Studies from Virginia Tech. His research is focused on the social, historical, global, and epistemological dimensions of engineering and computing, with particular emphasis on subjects related to computer engineering, engineering education, and educational technology.

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

Assessing the Intercultural Competence of Sophomore Mechanical Engineering Students: Baseline Data and Analysis

Keywords: IDI, intercultural development, global competency, global engineering education, mechanical engineering, sophomores


This paper presents baseline analysis of Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) results for approximately five hundred sophomore mechanical engineering students at Purdue University. The IDI is a statistically reliable and cross-culturally valid measure of an individual’s actual and perceived intercultural development. This instrument is being used by Purdue’s School of Mechanical Engineering, particularly to assess students who are involved in global educational programs such as Global Engineering Alliance for Research and Education (GEARE). In this paper we examine IDI results for Purdue sophomore mechanical engineering students, including comparisons based on gender, amount of time spent living abroad, and whether or not they later participated in GEARE. We intend that our results will provide valuable baseline data for sophomore mechanical engineering students, thereby paving the way for cross-institutional comparisons, and enhancing the ability of university staff to design courses and experiences for students that match their current levels of intercultural sensitivity. We conclude with suggestions for further research and analysis, such as collecting and analyzing post-experience IDI data for students who have participated in global educational experiences.


Given dramatically changing technologies and increasingly globalized markets, leading stakeholders have declared that “it is imperative that all engineering students develop the skills and attitudes necessary to interact successfully with people from other cultural and national environment.”1 Universities throughout the world are now establishing curricula and programs to help prepare students for this new reality. One common avenue for this preparation is giving students the opportunity to study and/or work abroad. In the United States, it is now estimated that up to 7.5% of engineering students spend time abroad during their undergraduate studies and many schools have made commitments to increase this number.2

Purdue University is no different in this regard. In 2001, Purdue’s School of Mechanical Engineering launched Global Engineering Alliance for Research and Education (GEARE).3 This program involves collaboration between Purdue and the University of Karlsruhe in Germany, Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, IIT Bombay in India, and Monterrey Tech in Mexico. Participating students study and intern abroad, and work on team projects with students at partner schools. Yet as programs like GEARE develop and mature, questions remain about what specific skills and competencies participating students can and should develop. There is also the issue of finding the most appropriate and effectives assessment mechanisms, to insure students are achieving these outcomes.

One of the more common anticipated outcomes for global engineering education is enhanced intercultural sensitivity and skills. One assessment mechanism often used to examine this

Thompson, J., & Jesiek, B. (2010, June), Assessing Intercultural Competence Among Sophomore Mechanical Engineering Students: Baseline Data And Analysis Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16181

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: © 2010 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