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Improving Students’ Soft Skills through a NSF-Supported S-STEM Scholarship Program

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.722.1 - 24.722.6



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Paper Authors


Tom Roy Brown Eastern New Mexico University

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Tom Brown is a professor of Computer Science and the Chair of Mathematical Sciences Department at Eastern New Mexico University. He received his BS in Mathematics Education and MS in Mathematics with an emphasis in statistics from the Illinois State University and his Ph.D. in applied mathematics.

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Mo Ahmadian Eastern New Mexico University

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Mo Ahmadian, Eastern New Mexico University
Mo Ahmadian is a professor of Electronics Engineering Technology at Eastern New Mexico University. He also served as ABET/TAC program evaluator for electronics and computer engineering technology programs. He received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Before starting Ph.D. work, he worked three years as a project engineer.

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Improving Students’ Soft Skills through a NSF-Supported S-STEM Scholarship ProgramAbstractIn this paper we explore the soft skills and interpersonal confidence that students gained througha one-credit course. The course was delivered to students receiving the National ScienceFoundation (NSF) Scholarship in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) that focused on teamwork. Students were grouped in teams of 5 students from sciences,mathematics, engineering technology and computer information systems disciplines. In additionto soft skills, students were exposed to job search skills, and helped them develop teamworkskills by researching a company and presenting the results to the class. Besides class meetings,students regularly met in groups outside of class to discuss their findings and to create theirPowerPoint presentations. Student’s understanding of teamwork was periodically assessed foreffectiveness. To make sure sufficient progress was accomplished, the instructor met withstudent groups and provided guidance and information to expedite the process.Engineering and science curricula often focus on the technical abilities of students, neglectingthe “soft skills” that could determine success or failure for graduates when they enter theworkforce. As an example, project management skills are often neglected in an engineering orscience curriculum, requiring additional training for those engineers who end up in managementpositions. Skills such as the ability to lead and work effectively as a member of a team arefrequently identified as critical to the success of an engineer, but typically are lacking in newengineering graduates. 1 This article presents some information on impact of the NSF S-STEMon development of students’ professional skills.

Brown, T. R., & Ahmadian, M. (2014, June), Improving Students’ Soft Skills through a NSF-Supported S-STEM Scholarship Program Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20614

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