Redefining Engineering Education as Skill Training


Bryan Higgs
University of the District of Columbia


The year 2020 has forced many institutions to suddenly convert wholly to online education as necessitated by a global pandemic. Online education introduces a physical distance between the instructor and the students that creates many barriers to learning in traditional lecture-style teaching. However, the rapid shift to online learning has opened many minds to the value of online educational tools from both the instructor's and student's points of view. For engineering education, the value of online learning can be increased through the adoption of a new perspective that engineering is a skill. Students who graduate from engineering programs are valued for 12 key skills: (1) problem-solving, (2) computer science, (3) industry skills, (4) pressure management, (5) teamwork, (6) creativity, (7) structural analysis, (8) communication, (9) attention to detail, (10) educational commitment, (11) data modeling, and (12) leadership. Possession of these skills has even led to many engineering graduates being recruited outside of the field of engineering due to the value they offer. With the true value of graduates being the skills they possess, it stands to reason that the curriculum of engineering programs should be designed for the development of these skills. By adjusting the curriculum through the use of repeated attempts on assignments and quizzes, students can be prompted to increase their investment in courses and thus improve the skills they develop. Offering immediate feedback through the use of online tools can further improve skill development by highlighting shortfalls to students so they can adjust accordingly before engaging in their next attempt. Redefining engineering education as a skill development offers the opportunity to take advantage of the current online learning situation to create new learning environments that are more optimized for the production and development of skillful engineers that are highly valued in the workforce.

UDC Faculty Senate
September 8, 2022
Online ISSN