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Rounding-up the Industrial Engineering Educational Profile with Adaptive Soft Skills Framed by a Cultural Competency Approach in an Industry-University Partnership

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Industrial Engineering Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Industrial Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1061.1 - 24.1061.16



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Paper Authors


Imelda Olague-Caballero New Mexico State University

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Dr. Imelda Olague studied Civil Engineering at the University Autonomous of Chihuahua (UACH) and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at New Mexico State University (NMSU). Currently, Dr. Olague is pursuing a second Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering at NMSU. She is the institutional liaison between UACH and NMSU supporting academic partnerships and research collaborations. Her research area is in geotextiles composites from plastics and natural fibers. In addition she studies the manufacturing of eco-friendly construction materials. Currently, she is collaborating with the NMSU Department of Industrial Engineering to develop industry-university partnerships and to study the effects of experiential learning on the employability of engineering students.

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Delia J. Valles-Rosales New Mexico State University

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Dr. Delia Valles-Rosales is Associate Professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering at New Mexico State University. Delia is originally from Mexico. She received her B.S. from the Instituto Tecnológico de Durango and Ph.D. from New Mexico State University. Her research uses nature to inspire the development of innovative manufacturing processes, new processes of biomass utilization in the plastic industry, and models and algorithms for system optimization in agriculture, industry, and service areas.

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“Rounding-up the industrial engineering educational profile with adaptive soft skills framed by a cultural competency approach in an industry- university partnership.”ABSTRACTThis paper details the creation and implementation of a pioneering industry-universitypartnership that recognizes the pedagogical value of learning experiences beyond a formalcurriculum. The goal is to complement the traditional engineering education approach ofproducing engineers with hard technical skills incorporating educational experiences in industry.It is expected that the new industrial engineering graduate will be ready to enter into theprofessional life with a strong technical background and being sensitive to the challenges posedby diversity and cultural differences. This partnership attempts to foster global and culturalcompetency by creating educational environments that favors a new type of global engineer, witha broad range of skills and knowledge, above and beyond a typical industrial engineering (IE)curriculum. The proposed educational model was founded in the sophomore and seniorcurriculum series of IE 316 Methods Engineering & IE 478 Facilities Planning. IE 316introduces participants to methods engineering and work measurement fostering the developmentof critical thinking, self-assessment, and team work; IE 478 trains the students in the art andscience of facility design and planning. Rounding out the curriculum of these classes, thiseducational experience complements the student’s professional profile by adding the necessarycultural competency required to produce a global engineer. The model consists of fivecomponents: identification and selection of industry partners and potential projects; attendance toin-class mini-lectures & assignment of pertinent readings supporting the selected project;student’s training previous to their incorporation to the project; monitoring students’ progress bysupervision of peer & industry mentors and class instructor; continuous evaluation andassessment of the learning experience through weekly reports and a final project presentation tothe company’s CEO. Completing the educational cycle, cultural competencies are developedthroughout the model components by exposing the students to interactions with industrypersonnel at several levels including staff engineers, technicians, and blue-collar operators withdifferent cultural and ethnical backgrounds. The whole experience ensures the development ofthe students’ ability to value diversity and to work effectively across cultures, while learning andpracticing fundamental concepts of industrial engineering such us lean manufacturing, timestudies, line balancing, quality control, and safety engineering in a real world scenario. Theliterature reports similar successful experiences where academic institutions are getting preparedto face challenges of globalization by partnering with industry. It is expected that this partnershipwill help to produce global engineers that are broadly knowledgeable and culturally competent.So far this collaboration has been in place for two academic years resulting in eight studentsbenefited from this partnership; currently three of them are permanent members of theengineering staff in one the industry partners. There is an increasing interest among IE studentsto be part of this program; currently twenty-four students are enrolled in the second cohort. Thispaper provides evidence of the main findings of this educational experience and it is expectedthat this model will be soon institutionalized as an apprenticeship program.

Olague-Caballero, I., & Valles-Rosales, D. J. (2014, June), Rounding-up the Industrial Engineering Educational Profile with Adaptive Soft Skills Framed by a Cultural Competency Approach in an Industry-University Partnership Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22994

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