Preparing Engineering College Students for a Culturally Diverse Global Job Market

Maria Alves
2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings   unpublished
According to the National Academy of Engineering, a core need for engineers today is to be able to work with a diverse, multinational, multidisciplinary workforce. Accordingly, colleges of engineering must develop strategies to graduate engineers ready for this global and diverse job market. Actions taken by colleges of engineering to add global preparedness to their curriculum are add-ons to the core curriculum, such as optional study-abroad programs, elective courses, minors, and
more » ... s, and certificates, and have only reached a small percentage of the students and/or sometimes have not proven sufficient for today's and future demand. Therefore, most engineering students in the United States are graduating not fully prepared to engage with the global job market they will be part of. The purpose of this study was to identify the intercultural maturity level, as determined by the Intercultural Maturity Framework, of students in the College of Engineering at Texas A&M when exposed to intercultural concepts in relation to cognitive, intrapersonal and interpersonal development. Therefore, as a result, understand how students come to appreciate cultural differences to interact effectively with different others is important. This qualitative study followed the Naturalist inquiry paradigm and used the interpretive method relying on information from interviews, documents and reports. The population for this study was the eight students enrolled in the Global Engineering Design Class during Fall 2014. iii The results of this study showed that this global course had a positive impact on students' intercultural maturity development. The engineering project the company provided linked their cultural learning to the engineering workplace reality. The cultural assignments and the work with the Brazilian students awakened the global interest of the students who had not traveled abroad, and it deepened the cultural understanding of the students who had traveled abroad. Most of the students who return from a study-abroad experience believe it was a life changing experience, but when they talk to potential employers about this experience, they describe the experience with the superficial "touristy" activities they took part in while abroad. In contrast, after the Global Engineering Design class, students described this experience in a less "life changing" manner. Interestingly, they were able to articulate, when describing the experience, their learning and what they will bring to the work environment from this experience. iv DEDICATION I would like to dedicate this dissertation study to my family and friends who, from near or far, were my inspiration and support during this long process. Without them, this would not have been possible. Since I started my PhD in 2009, it has been an amazing journey. It has not been easy, as I was working full time during the whole program. However, life did not stop; it just got more intense. One year after starting the program, I met my husband. Almost 2 years later, we were engaged, and around the same time, I was promoted to a new job -Director for Engineering International Programs. At this new job, I found the topic for my dissertation, and a new area of interest. In 2012, I got married, and in March 2016, one year before defending my dissertation, I became the mom of twin boys -Arthur and Bruno. This was the greatest challenge and, at the same time, a stimulus to finish my PhD. I want to thank my parents and sister for their unconditional support, not only now, but my whole life; my in-laws, who were instrumental in helping me get back to the dissertation after Arthur and Bruno were born; my babies, for understanding the time I had to be working instead of spending time with them. And, saving the best for last, my husband, who met me in this process and during this last year was the reason I was able to achieve this major goal. v ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank and show my appreciation to the administration of the College of engineering for approving the ENGR410 course and allowing me to study the course. In addition, for supporting the research to practice philosophy, which allows us to contribute to the body of knowledge in the engineering education field and create effective and innovative programs for our students.
doi:10.18260/1-2--30885 fatcat:yiaaymhmvvfrtclbmzhdph33um