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Intercultural Communication: A New Competency for the Global Engineer

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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

Global Engineering Education: Cross-cultural Awareness and Social Impacts

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Page Count


Page Numbers

25.829.1 - 25.829.9



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Paper Authors


Suzanne W. Scott The Petroleum Institute

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Suzanne W. Scott is an Assistant Professor in the STEPS Program (Strategies for Team-Based Engineering Problem Solving). She holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Denver, an M.A from Washington University, and a B.A. from Drury University. She is a former Coordinator of the EPICS (Engineering Practices Introductory Course Sequence) Program at the Colorado School of Mines under the directorship of Dr. Robert Knecht, and has served as one of the principal investigators in the PI/CSM collaboration, “Preparing Global Engineers” on both the CSM and PI campuses. Her research interests and publications focus on engineering design education in the Middle East and the U.S., intercultural communication, and educating engineers for global practice.

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Intercultural Communication: A New Competency for the Global EngineerAbstractWhile in the past an engineer was defined almost solely by his or her technical competencies, thelast century has brought with it and encouraged the development of competencies beyondproblem solving. The American Society for Engineering Education has stressed “(w)ith morecompanies expanding into new areas of the world, the need for engineers who are capable ofworking in more than one culture has increased.” Global changes have made it more and morenecessary to prepare the next generation of engineers for the challenges of working ininternational settings. To give our students a competitive advantage, the educational module inintercultural communication described in this paper will provide engineering students valuabletools for working internationally.Whether traveling to an international location to work on an engineering project or working onan international team at their industrial base, our graduates need to have an understanding ofdifferences in values, manners, customs, language, work ethics, and leadership that mayinfluence successful communication in the engineering problem-solving process. The content ofthis module will center on global challenges facing engineers in the 21st century, andintercultural differences that will influence communication and success in meeting thosechallenges. In its first phase the educational module will consist of lecture and interactiveworkshops of approximately 3-4 hours. The intended audience is within the scope of anengineering design course, but the module could also be utilized for faculty. The followingtopics will be addressed:  Globalization and its effect on engineering practices  Global challenges/projects for engineers in the 21st century  Communication theory  How engineering practices differ in different countries, cultures  Cultural differences, including values, language, religion, social differences, gender differences, age, legal systems, competitiveness, work ethics, honesty, ethnocentrism, leadership  International teams, virtual teams, collaborations  How cultural differences impact an engineering design teamAnother phase may include the development of a full course, depending on the success of themodule and the perceived need.

Scott, S. W. (2012, June), Intercultural Communication: A New Competency for the Global Engineer Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21586

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