Design your future: Embedding leadership and career development into a cornerstone design course∗

Meg H. Handley, Sarah C. Ritter, Dean H. Lang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Engineering leadership skills have been identified as a hallmark of the engineer of the future. In addition, employers seek to hire engineers with not only solid technical grounding but also strong non-Technical skills. This study sought to understand which competencies of entry-level engineers were sought by recruiters during on-campus career fairs. Themes identified included participation in meaningful experiences, ability to connect these experiences to potential employment opportunities, and key behaviors such as strong communication, humble confidence, initiative, and collaborative problem solving. Beyond simply taking part in an experience, successful engineering leaders should be able to clearly articulate their contributions to these experiences and how they have solved problems (both technical and interpersonal) as well as align their combined competencies to the potential job. Cornerstone engineering design courses offer students the opportunity to develop many of these non-Technical skills, such as teamwork and communication, through project-based learning in teams. Therefore, these courses are uniquely positioned to impact how a student reflects upon, and ultimately articulates, these experiences. In addition, since these courses often provide an introduction to engineering as a profession, the course is also able to help the student align their selected experiences to their career path. This paper suggests incorporating a threepart module based on career development theory into cornerstone design courses to better prepare students for their future engineering careers. In the first module, students develop self-and occupational-knowledge through interviews and discussions. The second module allows students to apply the engineering design process to a career problem by developing a career plan. Finally, the third module invites students to reflect on their experiences and plan and deliver an introductory speech, as would be expected at a career fair. By intervening early in their educational career, this type of module enables engineering students to meaningfully design their future. # 2018 TEMPUS Publications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)632-643
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)


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