Date of Award:
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Kurt H. Becker
Kurt H. Becker
Educational curriculum aims to develop knowledge within job-related areas since knowledge is the foundation of any work area. One of the objectives of a university is to impart knowledge on students to perform given tasks once they are in the workforce. For example, one of the primary curriculum design objectives in engineering is to ensure that it produces the outputs that industry expects. The development of core knowledge, such as mathematics and science, is usually the first step in an engineering program. Following that, discipline-specific courses are offered, culminating in a design project.
Teaching essential engineering skills and competencies is crucial, primarily at the undergraduate level, and new engineers should be equipped with a set of abilities pertinent to their future professions. Unfortunately, employers are finding it difficult to find and employ engineering graduates who can “hit the ground running.” The existing gap between academia and industry has enormous impacts on reducing the chance of employment for engineering graduates. Many scholars discuss the importance of design skills in industry. These scholars stated that universities should pay more attention to capstone design projects in their curricula. Capstone design projects give students the chance to work on real-world projects, strengthening and linking the information gained during their studies to practical concepts.
The fundamental goal of this study was to examine the degree of alignment between Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) professional engineers and ECE academic department heads regarding the required employability skills. Furthermore, this study determined if there was a significant difference between the thinking of ECE professional engineers and ECE academic department heads regarding the required skills. This study aimed to enhance the skills of a graduate in electrical and computer engineering by identifying the curriculum needs based on the skills needed in industry. To achieve this aim, the electrical and computer engineering skills expected by the employer were determined. The required skills were based on the primary duties and responsibilities. ECE programs can use the results coming out of this study to modify their curriculum to meet industry demands.
In order to obtain a deeper understanding of the required skill level that electrical and computer engineering graduates have upon graduation, and the impacts of these skills on reducing the gap between academia and industry, a convergent parallel mixed-method design was used. The purpose of the convergent parallel mixed-method design is to obtain different but complementary data on the same topic to explain the research dilemma best. This study employed a qualitative approach consisting of six in-depth, semi-structured interviews with three professional engineers working in electrical and computer engineering and three ECE academic department heads. In addition, a quantitative component was used based on two close-ended questionnaires, which were distributed to Electrical and Computer Engineering department heads and professional engineers working in the ECE industry. In general, the lack of collaboration between academia and industry necessitates an informative, discovery-oriented method to capture the main gaps between engineering education and practice.
To bridge the gap between academia and industry, three main techniques can be employed as started in the semi-structured interviews. These include more implementation of project-based learning techniques, more use of lab-based courses in the ECE curriculum, and the use of more practical life examples in the classroom.
Mestiraihi, Mohammad Al, "Required Skills for Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Graduates from the Perspective of ECE Academic Department Heads and ECE Professional Engineers" (2022). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 8622.
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