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Human Behavior Skills In Engineering Education

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Engineering Management Program Management / IE and EM Program Mangement / Engineering Management Program Management

Tagged Division

Engineering Management

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.814.1 - 12.814.27



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Paper Authors

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Rose Mary Cordova-Wentling University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign

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Raymond Price 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 in Engineering Education Abstract

This past decade has been characterized by a series of changes in engineering education, beginning with the recognition of the need to incorporate human behavior skills in engineering education. Now, it is important to understand the importance and benefits that human behavior skills can bring engineers as they apply their technical knowledge in today’s ever-changing and multidisciplinary world. This paper will report and discuss what human behavior skills encompass, the importance of human behavior skills in engineering education, methods for teaching human behavior skills in engineering, and the future of human behavior skills in engineering.


More than a decade ago, the American industry was satisfied with engineering graduates who were proficient on technical skills and attributes. However, the current dynamic world in which engineers operate require them not only to have an education in the technical disciplines of engineering, but furthermore, to have a balanced education in both technical and non-technical skills and attributes. “These days, engineering is typically practiced in teams with several engineers from different disciplines who work with contractors, business people, and sales and marketing personnel” (Hsu, 2004, p.54). Therefore, in order to get hired, and later on be able to have a successful long term career engineers need to be trained on human behavior skills so that they are able to talk, interact, and work with people from different backgrounds; be worldly; be leaders if the situation calls for it; be ethical; and know how to effectively conduct themselves at professional environments. This need for a more broad-based engineering education which incorporates human behavior skills as part of the engineering curriculum has been acknowledged within the last decade (ABET, 2004; Bjorklund & Colbeck, 2001; Hsu, 2004; Nguyen, 1998).

In order to effectively talk about the incorporation of human behavior skills as part of university engineering curriculums, it is important to clarify what human behavior skills in engineering takes into account for the purpose of this paper. For the purpose of this paper, human behavior skills in engineering encompasses many of the skills that have been referred to as soft and/or non-technical skills in past literature. This paper focuses on the human aspects of these skills due to the fact that engineers are assumed to be technically competent, but the literature shows that they lack the people skills that are needed in order to have a successful long term career (ABET, 2004; Baren, & Watson, 1991; Darling, & Dannels, 2003; Manseur, 2003; Selinger, 2003).

Human Behavior Skills for Engineers

Over a decade ago, the U.S. engineering community (industry, academe, and government) collectively concluded that engineering students need to be trained on human behavior skills in order to succeed within the modern American industry, and that consequently, a change in engineering education needed to be made (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, 2004). Since then, some actions have been taken to incorporate human behavior skills as part of

Cordova-Wentling, R. M., & Price, R. (2007, June), Human Behavior Skills In Engineering Education Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1690

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