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On Becoming an Engineer: The Essential Role of Lifelong Learning Competencies

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Exploring Student Affairs, Identities, and the Professional Persona

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

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Paper Authors


Jillian Seniuk Cicek University of Manitoba Orcid 16x16

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Jillian Seniuk Cicek is a PhD Candidate in Engineering Education in the Department of Biosystems Engineering at the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg, Canada. She is a research assistant for the Centre for Engineering Professional Practice and Engineering Education in the Faculty of Engineering. Her research areas include outcomes-based teaching and assessment methods and tools, student-cantered instruction (SCI), the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) graduate attributes and accreditation activities, and engineering students’ identities.

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Sandra Ingram University of Manitoba

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Sandra Ingram, Ph.D., is a SSHRC award-winning scholar and Associate professor in Design Engineering, Associate Chair (NSERC Design Engineering) and adjunct professor in Biosystems Engineering at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. Dr. Ingram is responsible for teaching the engineering communication course in the faculty as well as an integrated approach to communication in the Biosystems Engineering department. Her research interests include professional skills in engineering, internationally educated engineers, co-operative education programs, women in engineering, and post-graduate training of engineers

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Marcia R. Friesen University of Manitoba

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Abstract – Similar to the ABET EC-2000 3a-k learning outcomes, one of the required attributes within the accreditation framework developed by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) is lifelong learning. It is a competency defined by CEAB as an ability to identify and to address [students’] own educational needs in a changing world in ways sufficient to maintain their competence and to allow them to contribute to the advancement of knowledge. It is an attribute that is often held up as an exemplar demonstrating the difficulties inherent in assessing the graduate attributes, particularly the ones that reflect the professional or workplace skills of engineers. Some consider lifelong learning an outcome best measured a priori: in other words, it is cogitated as an aptitude that students will best epitomize once they are graduated and working as professional engineers. However, the knowledge, skills, behaviours, attitudes and values that engender lifelong learning are indeed present in our students, and one of the most effective ways to activate and observe this attribute is to engage students in discussions regarding their experiences and perceptions of their learning. This paper presents the findings from a qualitative directed content analysis of two interviews and four focus groups, as 13 student participants discuss their learning experiences within their engineering programs at a large research university in Central Canada. Not only are students’ lifelong learning aptitudes, including critical thinking, adaptability, reflexivity and curiosity, evidenced in the data, which speaks to both the capacity and the means by which to assess this attribute while students are in our programs, more significantly, we can use students’ developing competencies in lifelong learning to improve our own understanding of how students transform into becoming engineers. This paper makes a case for keeping lifelong learning as a required graduate attribute for our engineering students, and advocates for careful deliberation regarding lifelong learning, especially in regards to the recently proposed changes to ABET EC-2000 Criteria 3.

Seniuk Cicek, J., & Ingram, S., & Friesen, M. R. (2016, June), On Becoming an Engineer: The Essential Role of Lifelong Learning Competencies Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27331

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