Global Attributes and Competencies: An Initiative to Identify and Assess Key Characteristics of the World’s Future Engineers


For the past three years, the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Corporate Member Council’s Special Interest Group for International Engineering Education developed, presented, and vetted with its stakeholders a series of attributes representing the desired competencies and characteristics needed by engineers in order to effectively live and work in a global context. A global online survey was launched to validate the performance and proficiency levels of each attribute, including the stages at which attributes were essential to the preparation, performance, and employability of global engineers. Philanthropic support has been provided by The Boeing Company, and fieldbased research has been conductedtodate in the U.S., Latin America, and Europe, with forthcoming field research in late2013 and throughout 2014 in South Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Several publications and presentations have been already been produced, and there is considerable promise of additional national to international impact over the next few years as this Project continues its research and dissemination activities.

For the last two years, MIT’s Teaching and Learning Laboratory (TLL) has been studying ways in which to directly assess college students’ global or multicultural competence. Engineers are asked to demonstrate competencies in a host of areas in order to participate in the innovation economy. As “global engineers,” they must operate in cultural spaces that are different from environments they know well. Assessments of an engineer’s ability to navigate challenging multicultural environments provide valuable feedback to instructors as well as future employers. How can we measure global competence? This part of the collaboration demonstrates methods for assessing the abstract skill of global competence. It highlights as an example the development of a direct assessment tool currently being validated by researchers at TLL. This example has been published at the recent ASEE Annual Meeting and is currently preparing for pilot testing with a group of undergraduates.

Given the relevance and importance of these two efforts for the community, the initiatives will start to collaborate beginning at the upcoming World Engineering Education Forum. A halfday workshop offered at the end of the WEEF will support participants to achieve the following learning objectives: (a) describe the significance of the Attributes of a Global Engineer (GE) and multicultural competence specifically; (b) list the attributes; (c) explain how the Attributes of a Global Engineer complement other similar initiatives and how multicultural competence is relevant to other work; (d) determine curricular gaps where the Attributes, including global/multicultural competence need to be introduced, reinforced, and assessed; (e) develop instructional strategies and interventions related to Attributes; (f) plan to implement Attributes and multicultural competence into the engineering curriculum; (g) understand the challenges and best practices in assessing global competence; and (h) create a personalized plan to implement and assess global competence. The broader collaboration will also liaise with IFEES partners to identify regional collaborators for the growing initiative. Please see our collaboration’s webpage for more information or to sign up to receive updates:

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