Engineering Graduate Attributes

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This article reports on the types of soft skills acquired by engineering students during a compulsory service-learning module. Certain engineering exit-level outcomes demand mastery of both “hard” (technical) skills and “soft” (nontechnical) skills, as do most employers from students entering the job market. Two independent cross-sectional datasets were collected in 2015 and 2016 of 347 and 294 respondents respectively, participants being second-year engineering students. A further two datasets were collected from alumni of the university who had completed the service-learning module as part of their studies. Results indicated that the module allowed engineering graduates to develop soft skills such as group work, time management, communication, and leadership skills. This research confirms that, although the service-learning module entails physical community work, soft skills were the most important skills acquired during the learning experience. Service-learning modules have proved to be the ideal vehicles for soft skills development in undergraduate students, particularly for engineering students who are not involved in service-related courses.