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Role Models in Engineering

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

New Faculty Development

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1263.1 - 22.1263.7



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Paper Authors


Craig J. Gunn Michigan State University

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Craig Gunn is the Director of the Communication Program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University. His duties include the integration of communication skill activity into all courses within the mechanical Engineering program, including overseas experiences. He works closely with the Cooperative Engineering Education Division of the College of Engineering to monitor the communication skills of students who co-op during their college years. He is currently the editor of the CEED Newsbriefs and is co-author of a number of textbooks focusing on engineering freshmen orientation.

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Role Models in EngineeringThe promise of articulate engineers able to construct concise papers directing their audiences toexact interpretations and to present technical material through oral presentations is the wish of allengineering departments. Engineers who are both well versed in their areas of expertise and able toconvey this information has been a goal of colleges of engineering for decades. English departmentson every campus in the country have performed the task of giving information on writing andsometimes presentations skills to engineering students on a one or two class basis. This once in thefreshman year has constituted an engineer's indoctrinization into communication skills (mostlyattached to skills oriented to the arts and letters). Once this brief on-campus internship is over, theexperience (whether good or bad) is placed well behind the student on a far back burner that hasbeen turned off. The engineers quickly immerse themselves in their technical study, usually devoidof communication skill concern. The time has arrived for a simple fact to be made known. The mostimportant role models in the area of communication skills are individuals who have always been inthe engineering student's sight, the engineering professors who lecture and the graduate studentswho handle most laboratory experiences and actually many lecture activities. Professors in theengineering departments, as in most majors, are the focal point of their students, and their words faroutdistance comments from individuals outside the major area. Graduate students, because theyhandle critical learning experiences for students and are in front of students for long periods of time,are definitely an important element in presenting and passing on knowledge of both engineering andcommunication. By uniting the faculty and graduate students in a concerted effort to explore andimprove communication skills, both engineering students and the world in general will profit. Byanalyzing what is done in each course in the engineer's major, by creating a continuum ofcommunication skill instruction and evaluation in every department, and by utilizing in-place(through careful discussion) technical assignments to emphasize needed communication; theengineering student is more willing to accept and investigate the need for communication skills.This paper looks at the efforts of a mechanical engineering department to utilize elements alreadyexisting in the curriculum to raise the level of consciousness of undergraduates to one of the mostimportant issues in their careers, communication. The primary focus of the paper is on the efforts offaculty and graduate student to place communication at the forefront of engineering education. Alook at the work that has been done over the past ten years and the reactions to the work will bepresented.

Gunn, C. J. (2011, June), Role Models in Engineering Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18908

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