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Technology Curricula In China And The United States: What Role Do "Soft Skills" Play?

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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

Assessment and Continuous Improvement in Engineering Technology: Part I

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1169.1 - 14.1169.7



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Paper Authors


Xian Zhao Inner Mongolia University of Technology

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Xian Zhao, ABD, is an Associate Professor of Management at Inner Mongolia University of Technology (IMUT) in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, China, where she teaches courses in Finance, Investment, International Business and other related subjects.

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Joy Colwell Purdue University, Calumet

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Carl Jenks Purdue University, Calumet

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Technology Curriculum in China and the United States: What Role Do “Soft Skills” Play?


Technology Accreditation Criteria of ABET, Inc. (TAC/ABET) Criterion 2 lists the eleven areas of expertise a graduate must possess upon program completion; most know these as the “a-k” criteria, and it is interesting to note that only four of the eleven criteria apply to technical areas. All other criteria relate to “soft skills.” Soft skills play a crucial role in the outcomes for ABET- accredited technology programs in the U.S. The primary objective of this paper is to ascertain if technology programs elsewhere incorporate similar outcomes in their curricula. More specifically, the authors will compare a representative engineering/technology curriculum from a Chinese university with that of an American university, examining the role that soft skills education plays in each. Two of the authors, from the School of Technology at Purdue University Calumet, and a third author from the Inner Mongolia University of Technology in China, will provide an overview and comparison of a representative technology curriculum at each University. The comparison will focus on the role that skills such as communication, teamwork, and appreciation for diversity play in a technical curriculum.


Purdue University Calumet (PUC) is a regional campus located in the northwestern part of Indiana, serving approximately 9300 students.1 Although some of the students are residential, it is primarily a commuter campus located in an area with a heavy concentration of local industry. The campus offers master’s-level degrees as the highest level of degree conferred, although the main campus grants doctoral degrees. PUC’s School of Technology houses eight undergraduate degree programs and a master’s degree in Technology.

The undergraduate degree programs are: ≠ Computer Graphics Technology ≠ Computer Information Technology ≠ Construction Management & Engineering Technologies ≠ Electrical & Computer Engineering Technology ≠ Industrial Engineering Technologies ≠ Manufacturing Engineering Technologies ≠ Mechatronics ≠ Organizational Leadership & Supervision

Of these programs, Construction, Electrical and Computer, and Manufacturing Technologies (essentially all the engineering technologies) are ABET accredited. The PUC campus also offers degrees in Engineering through its School of Engineering Math and Science. The American authors of this paper have collaborated with a visiting scholar from China’s Inner Mongolia University of Technology to undertake this preliminary analysis.

Inner Mongolia University of Technology (IMUT) is a residential University offering a variety of graduate and undergraduate programs including engineering and technology-related programs.

Zhao, X., & Colwell, J., & Jenks, C. (2009, June), Technology Curricula In China And The United States: What Role Do "Soft Skills" Play? Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4790

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