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Collaborating to Prepare Students for the Global Workplace

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Communication: From Pecha Kucha to Bullets

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.332.1 - 22.332.13



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Paper Authors


Isabel Simões de Carvalho P.E. ISEL, Lisbon, Portugal

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Isabel S. Carvalho received a Licenciatura in Chemical Engineering from the Technical University of Lisbon. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the Technical University of Lisbon in 1990 and 1996, respectively. Following a year in the aeronautics industry in France (aero engine manufacturer) she is, since 1999, an Associate Professor at the Military Institute and also lectures at the Mechanical Engineering Department at ISEL. Research interests include energy production and efficiency and active and collaborative and blended (online) teaching and learning in engineering education.

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Christy Moore University of Texas, Austin

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Christy Moore is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin where she has taught in Engineering Communication since 1993. Ms. Moore’s current research is focused on ways of expanding the undergraduate engineering curriculum to better incorporate study of communication skills, global responsibility, and engineering ethics. Since 2004, Ms. Moore has developed curriculum for and taught a First-year Seminar that addresses the impact of technology on society and the environment.

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Preparing Students for the Global Workplace Isabel S. Carvalho 1, 2 1 ISEL, Lisbon Engineering Institute, Lisbon, Portugal 2 IDMEC, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal Christy Moore University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TexasOne of the crucial challenges facing engineering educators is the need to train future engineers forcareers in a multi-faceted, global community that faces enormous energy and environmentalproblems (NAE, 2005; 2008). Unfortunately, as Carol Del Vitto (2008) points out “universityengineering programs often focus on ‘hard’ technical skills” in spite of the fact that “it is becomingincreasingly evident that in order to compete in a global environment” engineering students mustdevelop “soft skills” that will allow them to understand other cultures and respond to the demands ofthe global workplace. Researchers such as Grandin (2006) and Camuti (2006) echo Del Vitto’sconcerns about current educational approaches and argue the importance of preparing students forthe global workplace. Del Vitto believes that the problem is especially pressing for Americanstudents. “If Americans want to be globally competitive,” she contends, American engineers must beable to work effectively overseas. She further argues that America is not rising to the challenge aswell as other countries are. “In contrast to Americans, Europeans and Asians have taken the needfor global competition very seriously.”This paper describes the collaboration between a European professor who has been weaving topicsof global significance into her engineering courses for a decade and an American professorintroducing those topics for the first time in a study abroad course to American students. ProfessorCarvalho, who teaches Mechanical Engineering at the Lisbon Engineering Institute, strives tocultivate “soft skills” such as communication skills, effective collaboration, and critical thinkingalong with technical content of her courses. Professor Moore, who teaches EngineeringCommunication at the University of Texas at Austin, collaborated with Professor Carvalho todevelop assignments and strategies for teaching that would enrich international study for herstudents and help them develop an awareness of global issues.The purpose of this paper is three-fold. First, we will describe assignments and strategies in a coursetaught by Professor Carvalho that will illustrate the pedagogical techniques she has developed tohelp students analyze the relevance of global issues to the engineering profession. In particular, wewill focus on a research assignment that requires students to compare energy and environmentalproblems (and solutions) in different countries. Second, we will describe Professor Moore’s studyabroad course in Spain in the summer of 2010 and the assignments that she developed incollaboration with Professor Carvalho. Finally, using qualitative measures based on studentevaluations, we will evaluate and compare the effectiveness of the research assignment in bothProfessor Carvalho’s course and Professor Moore’s .ReferencesDel Vitto, Carol (2008) "Cross-Cultural "Soft Skills" and the Global Engineer: Corporate Best Practicesand Trainer Methodologies," Online Journal for Global Engineering Education: Vol. 3: Iss. 1, Article1. Available at:, Paul A. (2006) "Engineering the Future: Staying Competitive in the Global Economy," OnlineJournal for Global Engineering Education: Vol. 1: Iss. 1, Article 2. Available at:, John M. (2006) "Preparing Engineers for the Global Workplace," Online Journal for GlobalEngineering Education: Vol. 1: Iss. 1, Article 3. Available at: (2005). Educating the Engineer of 2020: Adapting Engineering Education to the New Century.National Academy of Engineering of the National Academies, National Academy of Sciences, TheNational Academies Press, ISBN 0-309-09649-9.NAE (2008). Grand Challenges for Engineering. Available at (accessed April 2010).

de Carvalho, I. S., & Moore, C. (2011, June), Collaborating to Prepare Students for the Global Workplace Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17613

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