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Hardening Freshman Engineering Student Soft Skills

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2017 FYEE Conference


Daytona Beach, Florida

Publication Date

August 6, 2017

Start Date

August 6, 2017

End Date

August 8, 2017

Conference Session

Student Success & Development - Focus on Academic Support

Tagged Topics

Diversity and FYEE Division - Paper Submission

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Paper Authors


Andrea Carneal Burrows University of Wyoming Orcid 16x16

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Andrea C. Burrows is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Secondary Education at the University of Wyoming, where she teaches courses in science methods and pedagogy. Dr. Burrows taught at Northern Kentucky University for five years. In 2010, she was hired as an external evaluator to conduct research on community/university partnership relations at the University of Cincinnati. She has received several awards including the: 1) Lillian C. Sherman Award for outstanding academic achievement (2011); 2) UW College of Education outstanding research award (2015); and 3) UW College of Education outstanding service award (2016). Her research interests include partnerships with in pre-service and in-service teachers in STEM Education with a focus on engineering education applications. An active member of AERA, ASEE, ASTE, NARST, and NSTA, Dr. Burrows has presented at over 50 conferences, published in ranked journals (e.g. Journal of Chemical Education), reviewed conference proposals (e.g ASEE, AERA), and co-edits the CITE-Science journal. Additionally, she taught high school and middle school science for twelve years in Florida and Virginia, and she was the learning resource specialist for the technology demonstration school in Florida.

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Mike Borowczak University of Wyoming Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Mike Borowczak is the Director of the Cybersecurity Education and Research center (CEDAR) and a faculty member of the Computer Science department at the University of Wyoming. He earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering (2013) as well as his BS in Computer Engineering (2007) from the University of Cincinnati. His research focused on detection and prevention of information leakage from hardware side channels. Mike’s current research interests include developing homomorphic encryption, compression and parallelized algorithms for streaming and pseudo-streaming data sources while developing authentic cyber learning experiences for K-20 students.
Mike also has over a decade of industry and research experience – mostly revolving around the semiconductor and bioinformatics industries – with specific experience at Texas Instruments, Intel, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. In addition to his industry experience, Mike spent two years, while completing his Ph.D., as a National Science Foundation GK-12 fellow – teaching and bringing real-world STEM applications in two urban high schools. Since then, he has worked with university faculty to promote and extend K20 STEM outreach in Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Wyoming.
He has authored peer-reviewed articles and papers, presented at national and international conferences, and taught undergraduate/graduate courses in Computer Security, Data Mining, VLSI and pedagogy in STEM. Mike is an executive committee member of the IEEE Computer Society’s Technical Committee on VLSI, as well as an active member of the IEEE, ASEE, ASTE, among others.

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This paper, based on pre/post test scores of engineering student responses to ABET soft skill knowledge, explores the possibilities for freshman engineering students to engage meaningfully in six of the 11 outcomes for engineering graduates. With a focus on multi-disciplinary teamwork, professional ethical responsibility, effective communication, engineering solution impacts, life-long learning, and contemporary issues, the researchers surveyed >50 engineering students at a large western university to establish a baseline of their ABET soft skill understanding. Even after attention to soft skills, as explored in the literature review, findings show that even senior engineering students do not know about ABET accreditation, soft skills related to communication, or ways to apply those soft skills through conflict resolution. Currently as stand-alone course sessions embedded within engineering classes, exposure to ABET’s soft skills as well as conflict resolution techniques, can dramatically improve student understanding and collaborative interactions. The researchers propose utilizing these techniques and creating a freshman class or embedding the work in another course early in the engineering students’ program as explicit instruction is needed. For this study, techniques used in a stand-alone course session are explored. Implications for improved engineering student success are large and easily transferred to other programs as well as offering female engineering students a means to leverage socio-cultural capital.

Burrows, A. C., & Borowczak, M. (2017, August), Hardening Freshman Engineering Student Soft Skills Paper presented at 2017 FYEE Conference, Daytona Beach, Florida.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2017 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015