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Preparing Engineers For Global Workforces: A Research University’s Response

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

New Learning Paradigms II

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.974.1 - 14.974.7



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Paper Authors

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Gisele Ragusa University of Southern California

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Preparing Engineers for Global Workforce: A Research University’s Response

Gisele Ragusa, Ph.D. Associate Professor University of Southern California, Viterbi School of Engineering Rossier School of Education


There is a growing concern among universities that students in undergraduate and graduate engineering programs will be unprepared or underprepared to work in global workforces. The National Academy of Engineering, in their 2005 publication, Engineers for 2020, urges university engineering schools nationwide to embed curriculum and assessment measures in their academic programs that provide opportunities and metrics that meet this international challenge. Specifically, the National Academy of Engineering charges universities and colleges to prepare engineers that are leaders in engineering fields with strong communication, leadership and interdisciplinary research, and professional skills in diverse in engineering environments. This paper describes the University of Southern California, Viterbi School of Engineering’s response to this important National Academy of Engineering challenge. This paper will describe both curricular research and metrics associated with global preparedness for working in diverse engineering contexts. In this study, engineering students received interdisciplinary globally focused training via their coursework and laboratory experiences and were assessed as to their preparedness to work in global workforces and research environments. A global preparedness index was developed and administered to assess the impact of these educational and research experience with a summative focus. Results of this important metric were compared to students’ course grades, engineering efficacy and outcomes-based academic program success. Results of this research indicate that engineering students who were most globally prepared were also most efficacious and received higher grades in courses. Additionally, diversity in preparedness among the subscales of the index was noted, suggesting that students with diverse demographic profiles have diverse preparedness indices.

Keywords: Global, global preparedness, engineering education, preparation for global workforces

Introduction We live in an era with unprecedented changes due to dramatic advances in technology on many fronts. The explosive growth in computing and communication has revolutionized the way we work and live. Increasingly the engineering work force is becoming more diverse with teams working with global foci. These forces of globalization, demographics, and technological advances are changing the role of engineering in society,1 identifying a significant problem in the way universities address the engineering profession, engineering education, and associated engineering student assessment processes.

Ragusa, G. (2009, June), Preparing Engineers For Global Workforces: A Research University’s Response Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5732

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