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Engineering Management Skills: The Missing Link For Technical Graduates

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Programs that Serve Industry & Academia

Tagged Division

Continuing Professional Development

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.513.1 - 13.513.17



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Paper Authors

author page

Brian Dickson University of Strathclyde

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

1.0 Introduction

There is an increasing demand from employers that graduates should have a range of transferable skills in addition to their subject-specific knowledge and understanding and Norman Fortenbury’s view

In the first part of this paper, transferable skills are defined and prioritised, and the ways in which they can be developed within the chemical engineering curriculum are considered. There is an attempt to assess the extent to which the skills acquired during education are adequate for the requirements of professional employment, using published views of employers and the graduates themselves. Finally, there are some suggestions about the implications for the future of chemical engineering education. This analysis is mainly for post graduate level and considers what skill sets may still be lacking.

1.1 Transferable Skills – Definitions and Relative Importance

The outcomes of any educational programme can be expressed in terms of two main aspects: ‘knowledge’; and ‘skills’. Skills can be divided into those that are specific to the type of programme (for example for chemical engineers, ‘skills in solving material and energy balances’, and those that are ‘generic’ or ‘transferable’ (for example ‘problem- solving skills’). In the context of higher education, there is also frequent reference to ‘graduate skills’, but these generally mean the same as transferable skills at the level expected of a graduate. This paper is concerned mainly with transferable skills.

Many statements of transferable skills can be found in the literature. There is however considerable agreement with the main skills and some illustrative statements, from a range of sources, are summarised in Table 1. It should be noted that there is little difference between the transferable skills that are expected of a chemical engineering graduate (1,2) and the skills expected of graduates in general (3,4,5) and it would be surprising if there were significant differences. On this basis, and for the purposes of this paper, the five key transferable skills are defined in Table 2.


Dickson, B. (2008, June), Engineering Management Skills: The Missing Link For Technical Graduates Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3540

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