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Developing Knowledge of World History in Engineering Students as a Component of Global Competency

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Global Competency and What Makes a Successful Engineer

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Page Count


Page Numbers

23.404.1 - 23.404.7



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Paper Authors


Amber Genau University of Alabama at Birmingham

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Amber L. Genau is an Assistant Professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She received her B.S. and M.S. degrees from Iowa State University and Ph.D. from Northwestern University. While spending two years as a visiting scientist at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne, she developed a deep and abiding love for the people and country of Germany. She has yet develop much love for German grammar.

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Developing Knowledge of World History in Engineering Students as a Component of Global CompetencyThe increasingly global nature of the engineering field requires that today’s engineering studentsdevelop more than just technical competency in their chosen specialty. Increasing the globalcompetency of students is an issue currently receiving significant consideration. One componentof global competency which has been identified by Hunter’s Global Competence Model andothers is knowledge of world history, but relatively little has been done to address this particulartopic within engineering education. This paper discusses a new study abroad program developedand implemented at the University of ___________ which aims to increase global competency inengineering students by focusing on world history from a technical perspective and by usingexperiential learning to engage students with the connection between historical context andmodern cultural and social differences.The study abroad program was offered during May term as a three-week trip through Germany.The faculty-led program consisted of an upper-level, three credit elective course covering thehistory and evolution of engineering materials and the relationship between technicaldevelopments and human society, from the Stone Age through the Modern Era. The courseutilized lectures, a textbook, primary source material from a range of historical periods, scientificjournal articles, and visits to museums and historical sites. Students also took one credit ofGerman language lessons while in-country. In addition to cultural and historical sites, studentsvisited two technical universities, a government research lab and several industry headquarters.Opportunities were created for traveling students to interact with German engineering studentsand with Americans working as engineers abroad. Throughout the trip, as students interactedwith various aspects of German culture and society, they were encouraged to consider howmodern Germany is shaped by its history. Within this historical context, students were asked tocompare and contrast aspects of the German educational and industrial systems with theAmerican ones.At a national level, relatively low numbers of engineering students participate in study abroadprograms for a variety of reasons. The efforts of this program to overcome both general andinstitution-specific barriers to international experiences for engineering students will also bediscussed.

Genau, A. (2013, June), Developing Knowledge of World History in Engineering Students as a Component of Global Competency Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19418

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