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CASE STUDY RESEARCH INTO AUSTRALIAN MECHANICAL ENGINEER ATTRIBUTES Clive Ferguson Deakin University Australia Johnson Report - 1996 Stakeholder Review of Engineering Education recommended: a broader engineering education development of a number of graduate attributes

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case study research into australian mechanical engineer attributes

CASE STUDY RESEARCH INTO AUSTRALIAN MECHANICAL ENGINEER ATTRIBUTES

Clive Ferguson

Deakin University

Australia

johnson report 1996
Johnson Report - 1996

Stakeholder Review of Engineering Education recommended:

  • a broader engineering education
  • development of a number of graduate attributes

1997 Engineers Australia response: graduate attribute (10) outcome focused course accreditation.

= functional analysis development of CBET.

Loosely defined: Engineering school advisory panel industry members to provide greater definition.

Subjective - influenced by own education and experience.

context
Context

Associated historical and contemporary study:

Ref: Ferguson, C (2006) Defining the Australian Mechanical Engineer European Journal of Engineering Education. Vol.31, No.4, August 2006, pp.471 - 485 Taylor and Francis Ltd. London.

case study based research
Case Study Based Research

Determination of

  • range of attributes,
  • employment profile of Australian mechanical engineers
  • industry/roles to base case studies

Analysis of attribute significance for each role

determination of attributes 84
Determination of Attributes (84)

IEAust attributes (10) expanded by:

  • Breaking attributes down e. g. communication skills broken down into various forms of written and oral communication
  • Adding attributes more related to mechanical engineering e.g. 3D visioning, dynamic visioning.
  • Including a wide range of attributes from numerous surveys and studies into both engineering graduates and graduates in general.
  • Including the main subject specialisms within mechanical engineering courses (and the various mathematics specialisms)
  • Including personal attributes (e.g. interpersonal skills and time management)
industry profile data all mechanical engineers
Industry profile data – ‘All mechanical engineers’
  • Based on multiple years of APESMA Professional Remuneration Survey raw data adjusted for public sector bias.
  • FOUND: 6 Industries - Consulting, Transport equipment manufacturing, electricity and gas supply, mining and quarrying, construction contract and maintenance, and defence - employ more than 50% of all Australian mechanical engineers.
  • FOUND: Mechanical engineer manufacturing industry employment dominated by transport equipment - automobile industry.
industry profile data graduate engineers
Industry profile data – graduate engineers

Two sources

  • APESMA/IEAust Graduate Engineer survey (raw data over a number of years)
  • Careers Council of Australia Graduate Destination Surveys which publish the public sector separately from the industries they serve. Adjusted using data from the APESMA salary survey.
selection of companies or organisations
Selection of companies or organisations

6 industries - companies with greatest numbers of mechanical engineering respondents to the IEAust/APESMA graduate engineer surveys.

Global attribute significance - all operate internationally, have international partnerships or are part of global organisations.

6 industries 17 roles several generic
6 industries - 17 Roles (several generic)

Role based attributes

  • Stage 1 engineer – a qualified engineer without the professional experience to become chartered.
  • Stage 2 engineer – sufficient experience to become chartered.

New graduate ability

the survey instrument
The survey instrument

Attribute significance - 5 point Likert scales from ‘no use’ to ‘essential’.

Significance versus ability.

Graduate ability – 5 point Likert scale from ‘none’ to ‘excellent’ - relative to required level of attribute.

Next sheet: key grouped results (to present an overall perspective).

personal skills
Personal skills
  • Personal attributes group excluding foreign languages were considered essential for most stage 2 roles (time management, social/interpersonal skills, flexibility, conscientiousness, reliability and the expectation and ability to undertake lifelong learning).
  • Except for time management, all graduates abilities were considered significant or better.
management and communication
Management and Communication

Planning and organisational skills - essential for all stage 2 engineering roles.

Others essential for most stage 2 roles:

OH&S (also stage 1)

Team skills (also for stage 1)

Leadership

Project management

Ethics

Graduate abilities less than moderate were OH&S, project management and political awareness

problem solving design
Problem solving /design

Recognition & formulation of a problem – essential all stage 2

Application of standards and statutory regulations – essential in virtually all stage 2 but worst rated graduate attribute.

Essential for stage 2 in most roles (those underlined are rated less than moderate for graduate ability):

  • Application of Science and Engineering Fundamentals
  • Broad Engineering Knowledge Base
  • Recognise when to use engineering analysis
  • Documentation
  • Ability to sense the design looks sound
  • The ability to know when to call in a specialist
key findings
Key Findings
  • Competency focus in secondary and higher education graduate abilities of previous concern such as team skills have improved significantly.
  • Graduate ability in engineering knowledge base is generally rated moderate or less.
  • Few roles have every mechanical engineering subject specialism highly rated but attributes requiring a broad engineering knowledge base -highly ranked.
recommendation
Recommendation

Mechanical engineering courses:

1st degree develop a broader engineering knowledge base.

2nd degree develop advanced knowledge in selected specialist topics appropriate to the career role.