Understanding Engineering Competencies in Practice and the Educational Implications

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of the 28th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education, 2017
Issue Date:
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Context: Engineering professionals and educators have different interpretations or perspectives on certain engineering competency items, for example, mathematical modelling. The question here is how such differences impact the structuring and interpretation of engineering competencies at the general level. Purpose: This paper responds to the following questions: How can certain engineering competency items be clustered with others? Is there empirical evidence to support such structures? Approach: The research questions stems from a comparative literature review of existing national and international engineering competency standards. Empirical data used in this paper was collected from a small-scale survey. Social Network Analysis (SNA) was used as the method for data analysis - engineering competency mapping. Results: A set of conceptual maps have been made to depict the clustering of 60 engineering competency items identified in a real-life engineering company in China. Conclusions: It is argued that the Social Network Analysis algorithm can be appropriated for the study of engineering competencies. This algorithm provides indicators of identifying relatively "important" competency items, which create implications for undergraduate engineering practice programs.
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