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Transversal Competency Level of Engineering Graduates Dictated by European Industry

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

International Division Technical Session 1

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Paper Authors


Mariana Leandro Cruz Delft University of Technology

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Mariana Leandro Cruz received the BSc and MSc degrees in Biomedical Engineering from the Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon. She is currently developing the PhD in engineering education at the Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Aerospace Engineering in the Netherlands. Her research interests include engineering education, competencies, competency measurement, and course development.

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Gillian N. Saunders-Smits Delft University of Technology Orcid 16x16

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Gillian Saunders-Smits is Senior Lecturer and Passionate Engineering Education
Researcher and Curriculum Developer at the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering of TU Delft in
the Netherlands. She teaches Research Methodologies to all Master students, runs a MOOC
on the Introduction to Aerospace Structures and Materials and has previously taught
Mechanics, Flight mechanics, and Design Projects and has served as Project Education
Coordinator in the Bachelor and Master Track Coordinator for Aerospace Structures and
Materials track and was the initiator of the successful online education program at Aerospace
Engineering. She has overseen many curriculum innovation projects, most recently the
overhaul of the MSc. track in Aerospace Structures and Materials. She is currently the principal
investigator for TU Delft in the European Erasmus+ PREFER project on the Professional Roles
and Employability of Future Engineers and serves on the Steering Committee of the European
Association of Engineering Education (SEFI).

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The importance of which transversal competencies, a collective term for non-technical competencies such as problem-solving and communication skills, are required for student success in the labor market has been studied. There is no doubt that students need transversal competencies for professional practice. However, little is known about the specific competency level that graduates should hold after completion of their Bachelor or Master in Engineering. To investigate graduates’ competency levels, this article reports on the design, development, and results of an industry questionnaire, which studies the perception of industry representatives in Europe of the competency levels that Bachelor and Master engineering graduates should hold after graduation. A total of 28 representatives who work in the engineering industry and who recruit or work with recently graduated engineers responded. Industry representatives were given a list of 36 competencies and were asked to select the most important competencies and the competency level they perceive students should have after completion of their Bachelor and Master degree for each. Significant differences were found between the required competency levels for Bachelor and Master graduates. Industry representatives perceived that Master graduates require mostly advance level (as opposed to a lower level for bachelor graduates) for competencies such as risk tolerance, problem-solving, listening skills, writing skills, interdisciplinary thinking, strengths/weaknesses awareness, and actively seeking learning. These findings were unaffected by years of work experience of the industry respondents or their company size. The findings of this study help higher education institutions, employers and lecturers to stimulate the development of competencies required by industry. More specifically, they will be used as a starting point for developing and implementing curriculum elements aimed at enhancing competency levels of students at a Dutch university of technology and its European partners in the European project funding this research.

Leandro Cruz, M., & Saunders-Smits, G. N. (2019, June), Transversal Competency Level of Engineering Graduates Dictated by European Industry Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33464

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