June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Design in Engineering Education
15.736.1 - 15.736.10
Infusing Communication Skills in an Engineering Curriculum
The development of a new electrical and computer engineering program offers a rare opportunity to design an innovative and modern curriculum that incorporates important skills and content. The envisioned program is project-based and includes innovative and multidisciplinary aspects in its curriculum, organization and its operation. This work discusses methods and content developed to be embedded into an engineering curriculum to teach students effective communication skills and the efficient use of modern communication techniques. The results of this research effort, conducted by a multidisciplinary team of faculty from Communication Studies, the Arts and Media, English, Information Science, and Engineering are presented in this article. The objective of this activity is the design of efficient and innovative ways to infuse communication education into engineering courses, lectures, laboratories, projects, and seminars with adequate assessment methods for a set of well-defined learning outcomes. However, the infusion of communication skills is useful in nearly any field of study making this work a valuable reference for a very wide academic audience.
Adequate communication skills constitute a requirement for engineering program accreditation by ABET and an essential component of an engineer’s professional function. However, in modern days, communication has exceeded its traditional verbal and written aspects. Technological advances in presentation, computers and the rise of the internet have allowed communication to incorporate presentation, technical, graphical, media, and artistic concepts as well as communication techniques targeted to different audiences.
Engineering curricula are already overburden and difficult and must conform to many educational and institutional constraints. Most states or institutions impose a limit on the number of courses or degree credit hours. Consequently, teaching communication skills must be infused in required courses adding to the general education portion of the curriculum and without replacing cognate or core engineering material. The challenge is to provide a solid and modern engineering education where students will naturally and ubiquitously acquire efficient and modern communication skills.
This presentation discusses some of the research results of this project including the development of a modern technical writing course, the integration of communication skills into engineering materials, and multidisciplinary methods that combine students enrolled in the Arts, Media, and Communication Studies with engineering teams.
Communication is a multidisciplinary activity that encompasses broad areas such as oral, written and visual forms while engineering relied mostly on mathematics and the sciences at the expense of more interdisciplinary instruction in ancillary fields such as communication. The situation changed in 2000, when ABET recognized the importance of communication for engineers, who often work on teams and who need to disseminate technical results in an effective manner.
Eichhorn, K., & Thompson, C., & Vampola, D., & Messere, F., & Manseur, R. (2010, June), Infusing Communication Skills In An Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/15778
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