Work in Progress: Impact of Exposure to Broad Engineering on Student Perceptions


This paper explores the impact of exposure to “Broad Engineering” on student values and attitudes. A Broad Engineering perspective is presented by exploring the diverse challenges engineers will face in the 21st century and examining the knowledge, skills and abilities required to meet these challenges. This broad perspective is analogous to the horizontal bar of the T-shaped skills model introduced by David Guest in 1991. A required undergraduate-level technical management survey course, consisting of 75% mechanical engineering majors and 89% males, was redesigned to expand the overall course goals while maintaining coverage of core topics. Students are exposed to visions of our world in future decades and tasked to explore the National Academy of Engineering’s 14 Grand Challenges for the 21st century. They are then asked to evaluate their individual strengths and weaknesses relative to the knowledge, skills and abilities identified by ASEE and NSF as critical for success as a 21st century engineer. Throughout the semester course, students are tasked to explore topics that reinforce a broad perspective of engineering, well beyond the purely technical, including; cross-cultural communication challenges, ethical dilemmas in modern engineering, entrepreneurship and the maker movement, social responsibility of the profession, the human elements of project management, etc. As topics are presented, students are required to discuss opposing perspectives, reflect on their own aspirations, and ultimately identify opportunities for personal growth and further learning. An exploration of student “areas for continued growth”, as self-identified by students in the final course module, offers some insight into the impact of exposure to the broad, T-shaped topics. Qualitative and quantitative exploratory data may inform future study to focus on persistence.

Meeting Name

125th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition (2018: Jun. 23-27, Salt Lake City, UT)


Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

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