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GIFTS: Preparing First Year Engineering Students for a Career where Communication Skills Matter!

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2018 FYEE Conference


Glassboro, New Jersey

Publication Date

July 24, 2018

Start Date

July 24, 2018

End Date

July 26, 2018

Conference Session

Technical Session IX

Tagged Topic

FYEE Conference Sessions

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Paper Authors


Kathryn Schulte Grahame Northeastern University

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Dr. Kathryn Schulte Grahame is an Associate Teaching Professor at Northeastern University. As part of her First Year Faculty appointment she teaches freshman engineering courses as well as undergraduate civil engineering courses.

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Leila Keyvani Someh Northeastern University

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Dr. Keyvani is an assistant teaching professor in the First year engineering program.

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Students in a project based first-year Cornerstones of Engineering courses are tasked with honing their communication and professionalism skills while learning about the basics of programming and the engineering design process. Specifically, the course syllabus states that one of the Cornerstone course objectives is to improve the three pillars of engineering communication: written, oral and graphical. While the focus of the course is to hone new skills in design and programming, it becomes apparent that students have varying levels of skill in communication coming in from high school. To address the objectives in improving communication skills a series of presentation, graphical and writing assignments are weaved into the project-based curriculum, culminating with a final project exhibition and written reflection. These communication activities are sometimes labeled as project management activities so as to also build leadership – which is presented as a skill that only develops with good communication. In the one-semester Cornerstone course, assignments have a quick turnaround time thus the time it takes for learning must be carefully planned and built with repetition. Best practices for improving the three pillars of communication that were employed in the one-semester Cornerstone course are presented as well as how they were adapted to two-semester Cornerstone model. Students’ final reflections on their improvement in communication overwhelmingly show that they realize that good communication is a skill that needs be developed and constantly cultivated throughout their lives.

Schulte Grahame, K., & Keyvani Someh, L. (2018, July), GIFTS: Preparing First Year Engineering Students for a Career where Communication Skills Matter! Paper presented at 2018 FYEE Conference, Glassboro, New Jersey.

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