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Fostering 21st Century Skills in Engineering Undergraduates through Co-Curricular Involvement

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Integrating Engineering & Liberal Education

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.623.1 - 24.623.10



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Paper Authors


Dara R. Fisher Harvard University

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Dara Fisher is a first-year Ed.D. student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education studying higher education with a focus on international and branch campuses of U.S. technical universities.

Before enrolling at Harvard, Dara completed her masters of science in Technology and Policy with a concentration in Engineering Education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she served as a graduate research assistant to the MIT Collaboration with the new Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). In addition to her particpation in higher education professional activities, Dara has worked in several science policy roles in Washington, DC, including at the National Research Council and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Dara’s undergraduate degree is from the University of Michigan, where she studied Earth Systems Science Engineering with a focus on science and space policy issues. During her time at Michigan, Dara served as student body president of the Michigan College of Engineering.

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Aikaterini Bagiati Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Aikaterini (Katerina) Bagiati, Ph.D.: After graduating with a Diploma in Electrical and Computers Engineering and a Masters degree in Advanced Digital Communication Systems from Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece, Katerina Bagiati was in 2008 one of the first graduate students to join the pioneer School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. In 2011 she acquired her Doctorate in Engineering Education, and is currently working as a post-doctoral associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Dr. Bagiati’s research interests are in the areas of developmental engineering, early engineering, STEM curriculum development, and teacher training

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Sanjay E. Sarma Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Fostering 21st Century Skills in Engineering Undergraduates: A Co- Curricular and Extracurricular Development FrameworkAs engineering institutions attempt to prepare their students for today’s global, cross-disciplinaryworkplace, incorporation of 21st century “soft” skills into classroom-based engineering educationhas become the practice of many colleges and universities in the United States and elsewhere.While this method may prove effective in many cases, this paper presents an alternativeapproach to fostering these skills in engineering education: student skill development through co-curricular and extracurricular involvement. For this analysis, we focus on undergraduateengineering education, as we ground our framework in the existing student affairs literature onthe benefits of student involvement. While this literature thoroughly examines the benefits ofco-curricular and extracurricular engagement on the wide community of undergraduates, fewexisting studies examine the impact of this phenomenon through an engineering education lens.The purpose of this research is to create a framework categorizing how specific types of studentinvolvement – such as engagement in the arts, athletics, or student government organizations –can impact competency development in undergraduate engineering students. To accomplish thisgoal, this paper draws upon an extensive review of student involvement literature to develop aframework of the skills and attributes developed through specific categories of undergraduate co-curricular and extracurricular involvement.The connection of this framework to the practical requirements of engineering education isvalidated through interview data collected from supervisors of entry-level engineering graduates.Based on this validation analysis, 19 skills and attributes relevant to engineering education andpractice are shown to be developed through co-curricular and extracurricular involvement at theundergraduate level; based on these findings, the authors propose recommendations foradministratiors at undergraduate technical institutions regarding expanded support of co-curricular and extracurricular activities for undergraduate engineering students.

Fisher, D. R., & Bagiati, A., & Sarma, S. E. (2014, June), Fostering 21st Century Skills in Engineering Undergraduates through Co-Curricular Involvement Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20514

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