Development And Use Of An Engineer Profile
2005 Annual Conference Proceedings
Engineering educators, students, and practitioners possess "understandings" of what constitutes quality performance by the engineering professional. Misguided or mismatched understandings can lead to inappropriate career decisions, ineffective curriculum, and poor performance evaluations. This paper describes a process and defines the profile of an engineer performing well in professional practice. Developed with input from both academic and non-academic engineers, the profile presents
... , interpersonal, and professional skills or behaviors that align with key roles performed by the engineer. The profile is a valuable resource for educators and for students aspiring to become high performing professionals in the field of engineering. Profiles of professional practitioners are valuable to students, faculty, and employers. Students can use engineering profiles to form accurate perceptions, dispel misconceptions, and generate motivation to pursue a field of study 9 . Faculty can use profiles to clarify practices in their disciplines, design appropriate educational materials and instruction, and link other disciplines to their own 10 . Employers can use these profiles to communicate their expectations to educators and to guide professional development for employees 11 . Program evaluators can use professional profiles to link learning outcomes to long-term behaviors 12 . Method for Profile Development A valuable profile must accurately reflect the profession it purports to represent. Development of an engineering profile raises questions such as: 1. How broadly can the engineering profession be represented by a single profile? 2. What criteria are useful to judge the quality of a profile? 3. What process should be followed to create a profile for the engineering profession? The process and criteria for developing an expert profile are discussed by Davis and Beyerlein 13 . Their criteria for a quality profile are: Comprehensive -addresses all key areas important to the profession or discipline Conciseness -provides a snapshot of key behaviors or characteristics Distinctness -statements are non-overlapping Organized -statements are ordered or grouped for deeper meaning Action Orientation -statements identify observable actions Compelling -elements inspire development and respect Davis and Beyerlein's recommended process for creating a profile includes ten steps. Adapted to the development of an engineer profile, the steps are: The development of a profile for a top quality engineer began in late 2002 with leadership from faculty associated with the NSF-sponsored "Transferable Integrated Design Engineering Education" (TIDEE) project 14 . The engineer profile was planned to reflect attributes desired at the time of graduation or during the first five years following graduation with a baccalaureate degree in engineering. Performance during this 5-year window was judged important for a profile because it is indicative of both students' actual performance at the time of graduation and their predisposition for growth and adaptability upon employment. The development process followed that defined above, with multiple iterations and participation of multiple focus groups representing both academic and non-academic engineering perspectives. Major stages of development are described below. Engineer attributes and performance expectations were compiled from sources including: 1. Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) Engineering Criteria 3 and 4 educational outcomes and their expansion 6,15 , 2. Desired attributes and codes of ethics from engineering education consortia and professional societies 1,2,4,5,16,17 , 3. Core competencies and performance review criteria used by selected companies, 4. Defined competencies for engineering graduates at Iowa State University 18 . Synthesis of these engineering traits produced a draft set of ten holistic behaviors of an engineer, as shown in Appendix 1. This first draft of a profile viewed a top quality engineer as technically competent, a profound thinker, solution driven, client dedicated, process proficient, empowering others, communication competent, contextually astute, and professionally responsive.