June 22, 2003
June 22, 2003
June 25, 2003
8.266.1 - 8.266.13
Beyond Solution Fixation: A Short Course on Engineering and Business Concepts
Ofodike A. Ezekoye, Kathy J. Schmidt, Justin Cone, and Tushar Patil The University of Texas at Austin
While most graduating engineers have solid training in applying engineering principles to analysis, product design, testing and other technical duties, they are frequently not prepared to understand the nature and goals of the companies and ventures that employ them. Many studies have noted the disconnect in engineering curriculum between the assessment of customer needs as dictated by the marketplace and the engineering of products. In product design and development engineers are often quick to offer solutions without fully exploring the actual need and market for those solutions. Approaching a problem with this kind of “solution fixation” can limit an engineer’s contributions in business environments. What business skills do engineers need to acquire and how does the engineering mindset influence an engineer’s business savvy? Using funding from the Ford Motor Company; faculty from The University of Texas at Austin (UT) in the mechanical engineering department and graduate studies program and staff from the Faculty Innovation Center (FIC) are exploring answers to these questions by creating a curriculum for a short course on business skills for engineers.
This paper provides a look at the pilot short course’s curriculum, strategies, and resources used to present and teach interdisciplinary concepts related to engineering and business. The following three components were used in the instructional process: teaching notes; a course- package; and interactive multimedia resources. Fundamental to this short course is the notion that business is about relationships and communication. Through exercises, students are encouraged to develop their questioning and listening skills to guide them in a range of business interactions. This short course endeavor complements a larger project within the mechanical engineering department focused on implementing project-based learning into the curriculum.
Today’s corporate leaders stress that while they are not necessarily looking for engineers to possess MBA’s in marketing or finance, they are looking for new graduates to possess better “soft skills” (e.g., written and oral communications aptitude; marketing-related knowledge; and familiarity with business and financial matters). They note that these soft skills be emphasized, taught, and practiced in the undergraduate curriculum.1 As students enter the multifaceted, interdisciplinary private sector, they are limited in advancement if their skill set is restricted only to their own discipline. An understanding of the processes and context of a workplace enables richer communications and more effective practice. Several authors, including Long, have discussed the impediments to enhancing the engineering curriculum with business and Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education
Patil, T., & Ezekoye, O., & Cone, J., & Schmidt, K. (2003, June), Beyond Solution Fixation: A Short Course On Engineering And Business Concepts Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. https://peer.asee.org/11392
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