Literature Review of iKBE Competencies and Systemic Modelling


Historically, the main skills engineers need to have are technical disciplinary content knowledge and technical competency; however, concerns of needs of engineers for a variety of non-technical skills can be traced to the early 1980s (Wearne 1984). Engineering in particular and other relevant STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields in general are the most critical sciences for a nation to consider while seeking for or maintaining a Innovation and Knowledge-Based Economy status (NAE 2005, 2004; NRC 2007; Pinelli and Haynie 2010). In this context, the talent and skills requirements of current and future engineers as well as necessary relevant reforms in engineering education curriculum have become a hot topic of investigation during the last 10-15 years. Numerous studies and policy reports have been published mainly in developed countries or emergent economies, such as USA (Duderstadt 2008a), Australia (Rabl and Hillmer 2012), UK (Spinks et al. 2006), Canada (Chan and Fishbein 2009), Malaysia (Abdullah et al. 2007), India (Mishra 2010), and Thailand (Sunthonkanokpong 2011). The majority of studies have investigated needed talent in engineering in general; however, some research has had a more microscopic level, focusing on the required skills in a specific domain of engineering. For instance, studies have been published on skills required in transportation engineering (Skills and They 2009), mechanical engineering (2028 Vision for Mechanical Engineering: A report of the Global Summit on the Future of Mechanical Engineering 2008; Danielson 2011), engineering management (Dudman and Wearne 2003), and civil engineering (ASCE 2007). These studies continue to emphasize that technical content knowledge and competencies are essential for any engineer; however, in addition to being well grounded in mathematics and science, twenty-first-century engineers should be well shaped in broader knowledge base and diverse personal/interpersonal key skills. Such attributes and skills may include the following: teamwork, communication,

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017 9

M. Abdulwahed and M.O. Hasna, Engineering and Technology Talent for Innovation and Knowledge-Based Economies,

DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-46439-8_2

inter/multidisciplinary knowledge, analytical thinking, ingenuity, creativity, technological innovation, business and management skills, leadership, ethics, professionalism, as well as understand work strategies (Anderson et al. 2005; Sheppard et al. 2004; Swearengen and Barnes 2002; Shuman et al. 2005).

This chapter aims to provide a comprehensive literature review on needed skills for graduate and future engineers, in the context of generic skills and employability needs in knowledge-based societies and economies. The review spans over a diverse range of relevant studies, reports, books, conference proceedings, and journal articles. The review findings and contributions can be coined in three main folds: 1—a conceptual ontological framework of engineering skills in the context of generic—and employability—skills of KBSs and iKBEs citizens and workforce, 2 —the development of a model of driving forces for focus on shift of needed skills and attributes of engineers, and 3—a global set of 22 mutual common skills, but different in topology, between engineering and generic competencies.

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