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Preparing Engineering College Students for a Culturally Diverse Global Job Market
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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 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. 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.
Barbato Alves, Maria Claudia (2017). Preparing Engineering College Students for a Culturally Diverse Global Job Market. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from