Asee peer logo

Identifying Specific, Measurable “Skills” Perceived As Requisite For Graduating Aerospace Engineers

Download Paper |


2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Communication Skills in Aerospace Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.710.1 - 10.710.16



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

William Crossley

author page

Melanie Thom

author page

James Thom

Download Paper |

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

Session 1602

Identifying Specific, Measurable “Skills” Perceived as Requisite for Graduating Aerospace Engineers

Kimble-Thom, M.A., Thom, J.M., Crossley, W.A.

Purdue University


In the last 15 years engineering educators and industry practitioners have attempted to identify what skills a graduating engineer needs to acquire during his/her undergraduate education in order to be successful at design activities. The efforts to identify these design skills are hampered by both the lack of precision in the terms used to describe design skills and by the broad and vague nature of the requests to improve these skills as part of an undergraduate curriculum. A research study conducted over five years by the first author compared the specific skills requirements provided by industry practitioners to the published perceptions of engineering educators regarding the desires of industry practitioners.1 The resulting lists of skills from the two cohort groups (industry practitioners and engineering educators) were then compared to the observed behaviors of nine different semesters of a senior engineering design course.

Summary of the Research

Purpose. At the onset of the study, the researcher observed that educators and practitioners were engaged in activities to improve the skills with which engineering students graduate. The efforts were found to be hampered by a lack of precision in the terms, a lack of metrics with which to measure student performance, and a lack of specific goals and requirements perceived as necessary for successful design activities. Numerous studies reviewed during the research have had stated goals and objectives; however, the goals lacked sufficient specificity to facilitate measuring success or failure.

The purpose of the study was to first identify a set of specific skills perceived as important by industry practitioners and to then compare this set of skills to those perceived by engineering educators as industry-desired. This would determine if the sets of skills given by the practitioners and the educators intersected. A further exploration compared the outcomes from the two cohort groups to the observed behaviors of students in a senior capstone engineering design course.

The requisite skills identified by this research were those deemed necessary by industry practitioners for successful participation in design activities resulting in complex systems. For this study, a “complex system” is one whose definition and development resulted from trades between contradictory needs and desires from diverse disciplines and information sources, and

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Crossley, W., & Thom, M., & Thom, J. (2005, June), Identifying Specific, Measurable “Skills” Perceived As Requisite For Graduating Aerospace Engineers Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15588

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: © 2005 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