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Challenges To Future Engineering Professionals … How To Prepare Students To Face Them

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.136.1 - 3.136.10

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Zbigniew Prusak

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

Session 1347

Challenges to Future Engineering Professionals – How to Prepare Students to Face Them Zbigniew Prusak Central Connecticut State University

ABSTRACT Today’s graduates acquire knowledge that will not be sufficient for a lifetime career and, in some instances, will become obsolete in a matter of just a few years. Facing the predicted 3 to 6 career changes in one’s lifetime and an ever growing volume of knowledge needed, preparation of students must be a little different in the future. Should the engineering education process concentrate on teaching ‘specialists’ or ‘generalists’? What do we know about the knowledge and skills that will define a successful engineering professional? Product Realization Skills (PRS) - knowledge and skills that form the core of presently demanded engineering competencies are described along with problems in effective teaching of PRS. The paper analyzes various skills valued by engineering and technology professionals and educators, as well as the changes in the importance of these skills. Weaknesses in preparation of engineering graduates as seen by industrial leaders and engineers from different countries are also presented.

1. INTRODUCTION Many highly industrialized regions of the world continuously transform activities leading to generation of their economic wealth. Conversion of raw materials into useful goods as a classic definition of production is being rapidly extended by addition of various market-oriented services and activities related to transfer and utilization of information. The ‘service society’ or ‘information society’ has a growing need for people who can find the right information and use it to create (design, test, manufacture, improve, etc.) new solutions to existing or upcoming problems. Most economically developed countries realize that winning in competition is not based on a combination of low labor costs and yesterday’s technologies but rather on a combination a low total cost, innovative products, high quality and responsiveness to market. To sustain such a path of economic development, education of qualified individuals becomes an issue of utmost importance. It is obvious that the days of graduating from university with knowledge that is sufficient for a lifetime are long over. Just the past decade has brought an unprecedented degree of expansion in the scope of engineering activities. New jobs which demand interdisciplinary knowledge and skills that were previously considered unrelated to engineering, are being created. The progress of technology and the rapid change in business practices transform the practice of engineering resulting in broadening of the meaning of “engineering” far beyond technical applications. The practice of engineering becomes increasingly global especially in the economically most developed countries. Already in some multinational corporations engineers in one division compete for funding of their activities with overseas divisions. The need for versatility in engineering training, continued strong accentuation of traditionally emphasized engineering knowledge base, plus skills to achieve goals in a constantly transforming business environment become therefore increasingly important. What is the knowledge and skills demanded by professional activities of the near future? How do American and overseas universities fulfill these demands now?


Prusak, Z. (1998, June), Challenges To Future Engineering Professionals … How To Prepare Students To Face Them Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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