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Infusing Professional Skills Development into Co-op Student

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Panel: Infusing Professional Skills Development into Co-op Student Work Assignments

Tagged Division

Cooperative & Experiential Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.777.1 - 25.777.3



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Paper Authors


John (Jack) Anthony Selter University of Central Florida

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Jack Selter has 30+ years of experience developing and managing partnerships between industry, government, and higher education. Past organizational affiliations include Clemson, University of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University. Currently, Selter is a Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Simulation and Training, Research in Advanced Performance Technology and Educational Readiness, at the University of Central Florida.

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Infusing Professional Skills Development into Co-op Student Work Assignments For over three decades, industry workforce groups, engineering educationresearchers, and national engineering societies have all come to the sameconclusion; the gap between what engineering colleges teach in theirundergraduate curriculum and what skill sets employers expect new engineeringgraduates to have, has widened. Employers point out that new engineeringgraduates do have technical competence but severely lack professional skillsnecessary to manage projects, work with others collaboratively, write and presentproposals, etc.The problem statement is: What role can Co-op employers play in helping theirengineering school partners address this gap? ABET has defined key skills or “professional skills” in their Criteria 3. Asshown in Table 1, we have divided these skills into 2 categories: “EngineeringSkills” and “Professional in the Workplace Skills.”Engineering Skills Professional In the Workplace Skills• (a) an ability to apply knowledge of • (d) an ability to function on mathematics, science, and engineering; multidisciplinary teams;• (b) an ability to design and conduct • (f) an understanding of professional experiments, as well as to analyze and and ethical responsibility; interpret data; • (g) an ability to communicate• (c) an ability to design a system, effectively; component, or process to meet desired• (h) the broad education necessary to needs within realistic constraints suchunderstand the impact of engineering as economic, environmental, social, solutions in a global, economic, political, ethical, health and safety, environmental, and societal context; • (i) a recognition of the need for, and an manufacturability, and sustainability;• (e) an ability to identify, formulate, ability to engage in life-long learning; and solve engineering problems; • (j) a knowledge of contemporary issues; • (k) an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice; Table 1: ABET Engineering Skills SortedThis presentation will describe how employers can actively participate in helpingengineering schools and their students address ABET Criteria 3 recommendationsby identifying and linking Workplace Skills with specific activities that can takeplace over the course of several co-op experiences. These experiences can bebundled in accordance with the student and employer needs and requirements.For example, during a work assignment a student would be assign to work in afunctional team to solve a specific problem or design a new system. Studentswould be required to record their experience in the team: how is the teamstructured?; what were some of the teams’ key components?; what outcomes didthe team produce?, and so on.Student engagement into one or several of these skills related activities will beused to establish a student portfolio of professional practice which can be used todemonstrate professional skills proficiency, be used by the employer as an end ofwork term student assessment, and/or help establish a working roadmap for thestudents’ continuing professional skills develop, or all of the above.

Selter, J. J. A. (2012, June), Infusing Professional Skills Development into Co-op Student Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21534

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