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Date and Time: June 14th at 1 pm – 2 pm CEST

Engineering is not only about technical skills and knowledge. It also involves social, ethical, and cultural aspects that affect how engineering solutions are realized. This social dimension of engineering is not a new concept but has increased in relevance in recent years with raising expectations of the profession to ensure that technology has a positive impact on the world.


  • Una Beagon, TU Dublin: Lead Author of EJEE Paper titled “Preparing engineering students for the challenges of the SDGs: what competences are required?”
  • Cyril Picard, MIT/EPFL: Lead Author of EJEE Paper titled “Which professional skills do students learning engineering team-based projects?”

This 1-hour SEFI@work webinar run by the Engineering Skills SIG invites you to hear from two leading researchers in the field on their recent work published in the European Journal of Engineering Education. As well as discussing the main findings of the papers focused on student development of contemporary skills and competences as a result of innovative curricula and pedagogies in engineering education within Europe, we invite a debate on how to overcome faculty and student resistance to developing the social dimension.

Speaker 1:

Dr. Una Beagon is Head of Civil Engineering at the Technological University, Dublin, and a Fellow of the Institution of Structural Engineers.

Una’s research in Engineering Education centres around using pedagogical initiatives to improve professional skills in engineering students, shaped by her previous industry experience as a consulting engineer in Ireland and abroad.

Abstract: Despite the emerging discussions about the growing role of engineers in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there is a lack of agreement on which competences should be prioritised to prepare engineering students to resolve future sustainability challenges. This study examined and compared the views of key stakeholders of engineering education (Academics, Employers, and Students) using twelve focus groups in Denmark, Finland, France, and Ireland. The findings were mapped against competences identified in previous studies to highlight gaps and opportunities for development. The results confirm the strong emphasis on normative, strategic, and systems thinking competences in engineering. However, the outcomes also lack acknowledgement of anticipatory competence, contradicting the future-oriented perspective required to achieve sustainable development. The findings can be used by educators to inform programme development and to implement opportunities for students to develop the competences necessary to support sustainable development and the SDGs.

Speaker 2:

Cyril Picard is a Swiss National Science Foundation Postdoc. Mobility Fellow within the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

Cyril successfully defended his thesis entitled “Automated Design: A Journey Across Modelling, Optimization and Education” in 2021 as part of the Laboratory for Applied Mechanical Design at École Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Abstract: Engineering accreditation bodies express a strong consensus that in addition to technical and scientific skills, engineering education also needs to promote the development of professional skills. In general, team-based projects are considered to be valuable approaches to develop such skills and have been extensively added to engineering curricula. Yet, it remains unclear which skills and to what extent students learn from these interventions. The challenge of assessing the development of those skills is an important factor in this gap. In this paper, we used a standardized self-reporting questionnaire to evaluate the development of students’ self-efficacy beliefs through in-course and capstone projects. Results suggest that students only marginally develop these skills when they are not explicitly addressed as part of the project, showing ways to more effectively support student learning of professional skills. The questionnaire also proved to be an effective and scalable way to assess large classes.

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