By definition, a stakeholder is a person or group that has interest or concern in an organization. They affect or may be affected by that organization’s behavior and actions. Our Engineering Advisory Board is comprised of key leaders from some of the largest corporations in the Midwest. They are the stakeholders for our engineering programs at North Central College.
Too often these leaders have been disappointed that new engineering graduates don’t have the communication skills necessary to be valuable additions to their organization.
They report that new engineers don’t know how to participate effectively in teams or manage projects.
Ultimately, our stakeholders are looking for engineering graduates that demonstrate competency in five key areas:
- They must have the ability to analyze complex problems that have dimensions beyond the technical aspects of engineering. Better yet, they should thrive in chaos, understand complexity and be compassionate and professional while doing so.
- They must be consummate communicators; concise, precise, accurate and comprehensive. When building consensus, they must be humble, listen constructively and persuade respectfully.
- They must be productive, working simultaneously in multiple cross-functional teams either as leaders or members.
- They must be able to plan projects, manage budgets, analyze failures, develop specifications, evaluate designs, simulate, test and when necessary, demonstrate the ability to do field work. In other words, they must have real-world experience, not just textbook theory.
- They must be proficient using the latest tools and techniques associated with their discipline. This ranges from CAD, CAM and CASE to ERP, PLC, statistics, lab automation and simulation software.
To achieve these goals, the engineering programs at North Central, a liberal arts college, focus on experiential learning, research and internships to provide extensive high-impact, real-world experience prior to graduation. Our students will immediately be immersed in an environment where they will interact with faculty in meetings, work with unknown quantities, perform measurements, maintain project logs, write reports and give presentations.
Mastery comes from practice. To that end, our students will practice these skills in every engineering class, from the first day in their cornerstone class to the end of their capstone.
We believe the combination of an integrated liberal arts education with high-impact learning will produce engineering graduates who will stand out from the crowd by being more effective in their jobs from the very start.