An integrated approach to developing professional and technical skills in engineering undergraduates

Thomas A. Litzinger

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The general consensus in industry, government, and academia is that engineers will need more highly developed professional skills to succeed in the new millenium. Of the ABET EC2000 eleven basic outcomes, six relate to professional skills such as communication, teamwork, and understanding broader issues related to engineering. Thus, engineering programs must find ways to more effectively develop students' professional skills, without sacrificing the development of their technical skills. This paper describes one approach to achieving the simultaneous development of professional and technical skills, which requires students to practice these skills in an integrated fashion within a realistic context. This approach was implemented in a senior elective on internal combustion engines, which provided the technical focus for the course. The core of the approach is problem-based learning; however, critical to the approach are explicit objectives related to oral and written communication, team skills, consideration of engineers' roles in society and the effects of society on engineering, and application of engineering fundamentals in design and computer modeling. The paper describes the course objectives, the course structure, and the specific tasks that students were asked to undertake in teams. These relationship of the course structure and the ABET outcomes are also discussed. For each task, the quality of the students' work is discussed along with selected comments from students on how they perceived the tasks. Detailed assessment was performed throughout the course; its structure and some highlights of the results are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)859-870
Number of pages12
JournalASEE Annual Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Dec 1 2000
Event2000 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Engineering Education Beyond the Millenium - St. Louis, MO, United States
Duration: Jun 18 2000Jun 21 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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