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Human Behavior Skills And Emotional Intelligence In Engineering

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Contemporary Practices in Engineering Management Programs

Tagged Division

Engineering Management

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.677.1 - 14.677.8



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Paper Authors

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Raymond Price University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Rose Mary Cordova-Wentling University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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

Human Behavior Skills and Emotional Intelligence in Engineering Abstract

This past decade has been characterized by a series of changes in engineering education, including the incorporation of human behavior skills into the list of learning outcomes required for engineering program accreditation. This paper describes the efforts of a college of engineering at a large university in the mid- west to improve the human behavior skills and capabilities of undergraduate students through an emotional intelligence course. We describe our approach, our conceptual model, and some of the progress we have made to date.


Human behavior skills can mean different things to different individuals, however, what engineering educators typically refer to as “soft” or “non-technical skills” is what we call human behavior skills. Many authors in the literature have emphasized the human behavior skills engineers need in order to apply their technical expertise successfully. For example, Selinger (2003) noted that non-technical skills, such as making decisions, setting priorities, working in teams, running meetings, and negotiating, that every engineer needs to be more effective in the workplace and happier in life. Orsted (2000) stressed the importance of human behavior skills, which govern behavior at meetings, towards colleagues, on the phone, and the way problems and conflict are approached are needed by engineers in the daily interaction with others. In addition, Hissey (2000) pointed out human behavior skills, such as teamwork, communication, leadership, and interpersonal skills that have a career enhancing value and may save engineers from downsizing. In addition, Moon et al (2007) pointed out human behavior skills and attributes such as communication, social, presentation, interpersonal, leadership, management, and team- working skills that engineers need to confront new challenges in the ever-changing and multidisciplinary field that constitutes engineering in today’s global environment. Additionally, Manseur (2003) refers to the need of a “broad education that goes beyond traditional engineering topics and includes areas such as ethics, team work, oral communication, life-long learning, and an awareness of the impact of engineering on society to name just a few” (p.1). Goldberg (2006) noted that preparing engineers for organizational and people-related challenges assists them in being more effective throughout their careers. All the authors mentioned above have brought attention to the human behavior related skills that engineers need in order to successfully apply their technical knowledge in today’s ever-changing and multidisciplinary world. They have expressed that human behavior skills are of particular relevance in the formation and success of the modern engineer.

“Emotional Intelligence is the ability to (1) perceive, appraise, and express emotion; (2) access and/or generate feelings when they facilitate thought; and (3) regulate emotional to promote emotional and intellectual growth” (Mayer and Salovey, 1997). Goleman (1998) defined emotional intelligence as “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships” (p.317) . The relevance of these skills for engineering students and for professionals has been well documented. Schutte et al. (1998) found a stronger correlation between emotional intelligence and student GPA than between SAT scores and GPA. Numerous studies in industry have demonstrated the relationship between emotional intelligence competencies and exceptional job performance (Goleman & Cherniss, 2001; Boyatis, 2006; and Kelley, 2000)


Price, R., & Cordova-Wentling, R. M. (2009, June), Human Behavior Skills And Emotional Intelligence In Engineering Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4567

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