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Integration Of Liberal Arts, Management, And Technical Skills For Professional Development

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.361.1 - 3.361.4



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Vijay K. Arora

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

Session 3261

Integration of Liberal Arts, Management, and Technical Skills for Professional Development

Vijay K. Arora Wilkes University

Introduction In the global era of planet Earth moving into trade blocks and multinational organizations, there is a need for Renaissance Engineers—able to integrate science, humanities, and management concepts. This need is creating a paradigm shift to teach design process to solve any problem— engineering or non-engineering—as opposed to learning specific solutions to a specific set of problems. Design is a process of decision making in the light of incomplete and often contradictory information. In a course on Professionalism and Ethics—required of all engineers—we challenge students to examine professional and ethical issues by envisioning the future with a follow-up study on the impact of their outcomes on societal, political, and intellectual aspects of professional life. The course emphasizes the Theory of Constraints and Thinking Processes as emphasized in The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt. The course is consistent with the desired outcomes as listed in ABET Criteria 2000. The course accentuates the importance of adopting holistic thinking comprising higher-order life skills, professional skills, and technical skills. The paper provides an analysis to make education attractive, relevant, and connected to a changing world. The faculty development activities in support of obtaining these outcomes and related motivating factors are also included. The paper concludes with thoughts on the making of an engineering community comprised of professionals with just values of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for all Earth’s inhabitants.

Liberal Arts The interpretations and definitions of liberal arts are as numerous as the number of institutions and even departments in a given institution. In the light of diversity, it is always a good idea to return to basics. The traditional liberal arts consist of the two components:

• Quadrivium: Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy, and Music • Trivium: Grammar, Rhetoric, and Logic The first component is more technical in nature while the second involves more human interaction. These were the characteristics of a liberally educated person in ancient civilizations. Modern liberal arts embrace many soft subjects, the choice depends on the politics of one’s institution. Due to recent technological advances and global competitiveness, the nature of liberal arts to embrace humans and machines all across the globe is broadening. This is turning engineering into a new liberal art by integrating behavioral factors in the technical curriculum, in true synthesis character of engineering. Businesses in the financial, management, and other information industries are in dire need of engineers who are able to assess trends in industry, e. g., integrated circuit (IC) manufacturing. Even insurance companies need engineers to assess the effects of new technology.

Arora, V. K. (1998, June), Integration Of Liberal Arts, Management, And Technical Skills For Professional Development Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7222

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