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Industry Practices For Providing Engineers With Team Skills

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Project Management and Team Issues

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.761.1 - 10.761.8



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Paper Authors

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Mehria Saffi

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Mariana Alvaro

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Diana Mejia

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David Bowen

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

Industry Practices for Providing Engineers with Team Skills


David M. Bowen, Mariana Alvaro, Diana Mejia, Mehria Saffi, California State University, East Bay

Abstract The environment that engineers encounter upon graduation has changed dramatically in recent years, with technical skills being necessary but no longer sufficient for today’s conditions. Industry practitioners, followed closely by deans of engineering schools and by ABET, have identified nontechnical skills that are of paramount importance for engineering graduates. Chief among these is the ability to work in interdisciplinary teams.

Given the historical lack of emphasis that engineering schools have placed on creating and improving team skills in students, it is natural that industry practitioners have created their own practices aimed at creating and improving those skills. In this paper, we report some of the practices identified in interviews with industry practitioners, and discuss the feasibility of transferring and implications for utilizing such practices in academic settings.

Interviews & Interviewees Practitioners with extensive experience supervising engineers working in teams were identified through our Industrial Advisory Board members, through faculty members, through conference contacts, and through contacting targeted organizations and asking for a person with such experience. By this method, we were able to interview practitioners in manufacturing, service, transportation and government organizations. Interviewees hailed from relatively small manufacturing organizations (approximately $6 million in annual sales), to some of the largest and well known (UPS, FEDEX), and most respected engineering companies (e.g., Bechtel, Intel, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, Hewlett Packard) in the world.

As a group, our interviewees averaged 17.9 years supervising engineers working in teams and participated in an average of 68 teams each. They served as leaders or supervisors for 22% of the those teams, and served as non-supervisory team members on the remaining 78%.

Interviews were conducted either at the interviewees’ place of work, or at California State University, Hayward, at the preference of the interviewees. Interviews utilized a semi-structured format, and ranged in duration from 50 minutes to 2 hours. Interviews were video taped and viewed by multiple research team members to extract relevant information.

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

Saffi, M., & Alvaro, M., & Mejia, D., & Bowen, D. (2005, June), Industry Practices For Providing Engineers With Team Skills Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14781

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