This Work in Progress paper describes the Professional Development (PD) module adopted in a first-year interdisciplinary engineering course at a research university in the southeast region. This paper reports the approach taken to incorporate professional development component into engineering students’ coursework. The PD module accounts for 16% of the total grade of a course in a first year foundations of engineering laboratory course which primarily focuses on teaching fundamental engineering design process. Three sequential assignments are required for the PD module of this 3-credit course with over 500 freshmen. The goal of the PD module is to prepare students for successful careers in engineering by developing both technical and soft skills. And importantly, for students to intentionally employ good principles that promote academic growth, achievement and success throughout their undergraduate experience.
The PD module is carried out through enrollment in the institution’s Career Readiness Badging Program (CRBP). This program was developed to address the ascribed National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) eight competence skills that employers seek in students upon entering the workforce. These skills include Technology, Critical thinking, Global Citizenship, Teamwork, Career Management, Leadership, Professionalism and Communications. The PD module is divided into three sections: Learn it; Do it and Show it. The Learn it section utilizes skills acquired in workshops, coursework or training programs that demonstrates how a particular NACE skill was learned. The Do it portion consists of students completing an experience (i.e. volunteer, internship, job or student organizations) that requires the use of one self-identified essential skill. For the Show it assignment, students have to virtually document a time when the essential skill was used by employing the Situation-Task-Action-Result (STAR) behavioral interview method. Prior to participating in the CRBP, students identify their competencies, weakness and strengths after completing a worksheet with highlighted soft skills and technical skills that are required to execute the course projects. Students are then required to select one of the eight essential skills to work on for the PD module. Upon completion of the PD three assignments, students will earn a career badge that may be displayed on resumes and career management systems.
It is anticipated that students will take advantage of the CRBP and aim to work on multiple essential skills that are necessary to prepare them for the work force before graduation. Managing the different skills learned by the large class size and providing adequate feedback could pose challenging in a 16-week course. Nevertheless, the ability to provide students with effective tools to acquire essential professional skills is crucial to developing the next generation of engineers who excel beyond college.
Are you a researcher? Would you like to cite this paper?
Visit the ASEE document repository at
for more tools and easy citations.