In Phase II, Insights from Tomorrow’s Engineers, a group of 41 undergraduate and graduate students was gathered to assess the value of 36 characteristics of engineering graduates most sought by industry, identified in Phase I. The students participated in a two-day workshop in April 2015 to share their observations, and suggest ways in which engineering instruction could be improved to meet demands of the contemporary workplace.
Participating students concluded that their institutions were paying insufficient attention to multiple KSAs needed to produce the desired T-shaped professional—one who possesses deep expertise within a single domain, broad knowledge across domains, and the ability to collaborate with others in a diverse working environment. They did not fault the subjects emphasized in their education (particularly the rigorous grounding in math, science, and engineering fundamentals that are a priority of engineering programs), but criticized how these and other courses were taught. Urging a greater emphasis on instructor training, students suggested that pedagogy be part of the basis for securing tenure and salary increases. They also called for greater faculty diversity in terms of gender and ethnicity, and stressed that experience in industry can enhance teachers’ performance. Certain students also said their institutions could improve accountability by assessing whether courses fulfill the promise advertised in syllabi and by emphasizing the process of learning throughout a course.
Students contended that, from the first year onward, calculus, physics, and chemistry courses should include examples of real-world engineering applications. Design-based projects, supplemented by extra-curricular activities, competitions, and makerspaces, should be included in the curriculum from the outset and incorporated throughout to stimulate learning and creativity. They argued that open-ended problems and exams (as opposed to exclusively quantitative assessments) will train students to think critically. Technology used in the classroom should be kept current in order to keep pace with skills and approaches in demand beyond the classroom. With regard to team-based learning, teams should be intentionally diverse, not only in ethnicity and gender but in personality types, to encourage cultural awareness. Exposure to industry, business training, ethics, and communication skills all require more attention. Download TUEE Phase II Report