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Determining the Dependencies of Engineering Competencies for Engineering Practice: An Exploratory Case Study

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

ERM Technical Session 14: Thinking about the Engineering Curriculum

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Jillian Seniuk Cicek University of Manitoba Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Jillian Seniuk Cicek is an Assistant Professor in the Centre for Engineering Professional Practice and Engineering Education at the University of Manitoba, in Canada. She teaches technical communication. Her areas of investigation include program evaluation; outcomes-based teaching and assessment; engineering competencies; instructor pedagogical practices and belief-systems; engineering epistemology; and student culture, diversity, perspectives, and identity.

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Robert Renaud PhD University of Manitoba Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Robert Renaud is cross-appointed as an Associate Professor in the Centre for Engineering Professional Practice and Engineering Education, and is the Head of the Department of Educational Administration, Foundations, and Psychology at the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg, Canada. He teaches assessment, program evaluation, and research methods. His main areas of research interest include program evaluation, student assessment, teaching effectiveness, and quantitative methods.

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Similar to the changes brought about by ABET’s adoption of student learning outcomes, changes to engineering accreditation requirements in Canada in 2009 initiated a shift to outcomes-based education and emphasis on continual program improvement. A list of 12 attributes was introduced – competencies that can be mapped on to the ABET General Criterion 3: Student Outcomes. The Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) requires all students graduating from CEAB accredited engineering programs demonstrate these competencies. This has presented a challenge: how best to teach and assess them? Generally, the CEAB graduate attributes were/are accepted as offered: 12 individual competencies, with emphasis often placed on the first listed – Engineering Knowledge, Problem Analysis, Investigation, Design, and Engineering Tools – the more ‘traditional’ engineering skills – even if this emphasis was not intended by CEAB. In fact, research in the field indicates that teamwork and communication skills – competencies found in the ‘middle’ of the list – are top competencies for engineering practice. Additionally, the need to investigate potential clusters of competencies has been emphasized in this research, identified as a gap in both engineering education and research.

Considering the research, and motivated to inform engineering education curricular design and improvement at the University of Manitoba, an exploratory case study was designed in part to investigate how the CEAB graduate attributes cluster for a new engineer in engineering practice as perceived by key engineering stakeholders. The data consisted of perceived similarities between each possible pair of graduate attributes collected from engineering student, faculty and industry stakeholders. Multidimensional scaling analysis showed that the 12 graduate attributes can be conceptualized as four clusters, which we have suggested be titled, Problem Solving Skills, Interpersonal Skills, Ethical Reasoning, and Creativity and Innovation. These findings, supported by the relevant literature, highlight the need to further explore how engineering competencies cluster in practice to add empirical support for program changes aimed toward educating the whole engineer.

Seniuk Cicek, J., & Renaud, R. (2019, June), Determining the Dependencies of Engineering Competencies for Engineering Practice: An Exploratory Case Study Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32628

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