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Development Of Engineering Professional Abilities In A Co Curricular Program For Engineering Sophomores

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Entrepreneurial/Innovative Communication

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.456.1 - 9.456.13



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Paper Authors

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Barbara Masi

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

Session 3561

Development of engineering professional abilities in a co-curricular program for engineering sophomores

Charles Leiserson Barbara Masi Chris Resto Dick K.P.Yue MIT


Like many engineering schools, MIT found itself faced with the challenge of providing engineering students with an educational program that develops an ever-broader range of technical and non-technical abilities. With the primary curriculum already overloaded, the School took an alternative approach. Launched in 2002, the Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program (UPOP) is a co-curricular program for sophomores that provides professional engineering experience and begins development of students’ non-technical professional abilities at an early point in their undergraduate education. The UPOP program goal is to integrate three essential parts of effective learning: knowledge, experience, and reflection. UPOP consists of: 1) Knowledge 1- The program begins with an intensive week of engineering practice "boot camp" during the January intersession and is led by engineering and management faculty. Through active case-based and role- playing learning sessions, students gain practical knowledge and appreciation for interpersonal and presentation skills, leadership, professional ethics, organizational dynamics, product development, and statistical quality control; 2) Knowledge 2- In Spring, students attend alumni-led workshops on career development; 3) Experience- In Summer, students complete 12 weeks of employment where they will be able to realize UPOP’s educational objectives; 4) Reflection 1- During the summer, students complete a structured journal that permits exploration of engineering teamwork, communication, and organization; 5) Reflection 2- In Fall, students meet to discuss their experiences with other students and faculty. Assessment and evaluation of the new program included activity feedback surveys completed by students, ability self-assessment surveys completed by UPOP students and a control group, employer review of student performance on internships for UPOP students and a control group, and collaborative review of completed student journals. Analysis of data revealed student improvement in many key non-technical professional abilities such as interpersonal and teamwork abilities, presentation, identification of customer needs as part of the product development process, and comprehension of organization dynamics and strategy concepts compared with the control group.


During the past decade, changes in the organizational structure of business organizations have led to an increased need for well-rounded professionals. Professional competencies of communication, teamwork, and leadership, as well as the ability to work effectively in

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Masi, B. (2004, June), Development Of Engineering Professional Abilities In A Co Curricular Program For Engineering Sophomores Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13376

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