Moving Beyond Technical Skills: Fostering the Development of Essential Skills Needed for a Successful Career in Engineering

J. Larson, Wendy Barnard, J. Chandler, M. O'donnell, W. Savenye, C. E. Zapata

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Across most disciplines of engineering there continues to be economic, social, and political changes that merit a more comprehensive knowledge base for those pursuing careers in engineering. STEM education in general is often cited as a critical component to increase economic global competition by expanding the competitive edge in modern economies. In addition to technical skills taught at the university level, evidence from industry suggests a need to create an environment fostering a holistic engineering skillset that prepares students for a variety of engineering careers and accelerates their professional development. Data from surveys, interviews, and career fair observations revealed that non-technical skills such as writing, presenting, communicating, collaborating, leading, mentoring, and critical analysis have been identified as important by industry representatives. This paper discusses the efforts of one National Science Foundation-funded Engineering Research Center to strategically embed and adjust educational components to allow future engineers to learn, practice, and apply non-technical skills that enrich their university experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)694-701
Number of pages8
JournalGeotechnical Special Publication
Issue numberGSP 318
StatePublished - 2020
EventGeo-Congress 2020: Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering and Special Topics - Minneapolis, United States
Duration: Feb 25 2020Feb 28 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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