Attitude Development Towards The Engineering Profession

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					        Attitude Development Towards The Engineering Profession

    Norfizah Md.Ali, Wan Nor Liza Mahadi, Norhayati Soin, Siti Fatimah Siraj
      (M.Sc)                (Ph.D)              (M.Sc.)         (M.Sc.)
          Department of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications,
                       Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur.

Abstract                                        high emotional intelligence (EI) and
                                                emotional quotient (EQ). Besides these
The Engineering profession requires             qualities, he should also be a good time
certain criteria to be met in order to          manager and is aware of ethical issues in
produce well balanced engineers who             the engineering profession.
excel in their work and with a
disposition of good character. Recent           2.Description   of   the   contribution
feedback from industries revealed that          factors
most graduate engineers are lacking in
certain criteria required by their              The existing engineering syllabus was
employers. The authors have identified          found to be adequate in providing the
the area of concern which may                   basic technical knowledge to the
contribute towards this declining pattern.      engineering students. The educators
The objective of this paper is to identify      acknowledge that the students are
the contributing factors, to analyze them       equipped with the technical background,
and to propose a series of solutions to         however, the following factors and
overcome them.                                  qualities should also be stressed, taught
                                                and given guidance to the students to
1.Introductions                                 enable them to be a more balanced
                                                engineer.
The employers from industries complain
that the newly recruited engineering            (i)Motivation
graduates lack many traits to qualify
them as good professional engineers.            Motivation is one important factor in
The     engineering       educators      feel   grooming a good engineer. Right from
responsible to rectify this situation. At       the university days, an engineering
present, the educators are only                 student not only has to be highly
concerned with producing engineers              motivated but he also has to cultivate
with good technical knowledge that we           good studying habits in order to succeed
somehow overlooked the other qualities          later in his life.
which are also important in the process         The student must learn to motivate
of producing capable and efficient              himself to want to know more, by asking
engineers. It is the objective of this study    himself questions like what, why,
to look at the factors which are crucial in     where, when and how for any topic that
the making of a well balanced engineer          he learns. Generally if one can provide
who is technically knowledgeable in his         the answers to these questions one would
job, highly motivated, with good                have structured ones learning approach
communication skills and he possesses
to cover a substantial area of topic
concerned.                                    After lectures, students are advised to
                                              look at their notes and also compare with
The student must be able to read a            their friends to fill in the missing gaps,
particular topic in advance to find that he   keywords and phrases. They should
will already know something about             determine the overall flow of the lecture
when the next lecture begins. Absorbing       and all the topics covered in the lecture.
what the lecturer has to say would be         There is usually a motivation talk in our
much easier than encountering the topic       department to the engineering students at
for the first time. The student‟s lecture     least once a year so as to recharge their
notes should contain points, theories and     strength and enthusiasm in their
concepts introduced by the lecturer and       objective to become good engineers.
other diagrams or new facts that will
explain the concept. All these should be
supplemented with notes from your             (ii)Attitude
readings.
                                              The general attitude of engineering
Most students come to lectures with           students are closely monitored by the
closed minds and are just ready to take       lecturers in this department. We want to
down notes rather than listen and             produce good engineers who are not
understand the concepts and theories          only motivated by financial rewards but
presented. When audio-visuals are             also human beings who can contribute
presented, students will be vigorously        effectively to society and mankind. The
taking down notes without even                human aspect plays an important role in
bothering to understand the concepts          engineering. Hence, a good engineer
behind the diagrams. Observe, listen and      must be able to fit into the society very
understand new concepts first. Then           well which also reflects on his spiritual
write down the main points only.              commitment. There must be a balance of
Students should be alert and attentive all    all factors that can contribute to the
the time and try not to complain too          making of a good engineer.
much. It is found that generally, students
who complain about not being able to
take down notes are those who are too         (iii)Emotional Intelligence (EI) and
lazy to read their textbooks. These           Emotional Quotient (EQ)
students tend to show apathy towards
their work. These same students will be       An important factor which contributes to
the ones who complain about practicals,       being a good engineer is the degree of
and almost about everything. They are         emotional      intelligence     (EI)  and
also the ones to get poor grades.             emotional quotient (EQ) that he
                                              possesses. Emotional intelligence (EI)
Another point to consider is to be sure to    encompasses abilities such as self-
get the front seats or best seats. In a big   motivation,        persistence,      mood
class, when you sit at the back, the          management, sensitivity towards the
visuals might not be easily seen and          feelings of others and social competence.
when that happens you tend to drift off       Studies have shown that success in the
from the main discussion.                     practical world is largely dependent on
one‟s emotional quotient (EQ) rather         subject has been made compulsory. They
than his or her intelligent quotient (IQ).   should be aware that their role is to
It is now determined that IQ alone is not    improve the quality of life and to ensure
enough to determine success in career or     sustainable development.
social life. A high IQ may be important
in obtaining degrees, but for making         (v)Communication skills
one‟s way in the engineering world, it is
EQ that counts. Someone may be               Communication skill is an important
intelligent and talented but if he cannot    trait an engineer must acquire in his
take criticism, unable to listen and         career. The ability to get ones message
communicate well with others, get            across in a manner that is acceptable, is
defensive and angry when his mistakes        crucial in the engineering profession. A
are pointed to, then he has a character      typical engineer needs to address his
trait which will hinder his success later    superiors, give presentations and
in life. Emotional intelligence gives one    explanations when required, and he
a competitive edge. Studies have shown       needs to interact with his peers and most
even at Bell Labs, where everyone is         likely he needs to give instructions to his
smart, it was found that the most valued     subordinates. There are many courses
and productive engineers are those with      and workshops available to improve
the traits of emotional intelligence but     ones communication skills.
not necessarily with the highest IQ. An      An engineer has to listen more carefully
analysis of the personality traits that      and more responsively. He needs to
accompany high EQ are men who are            explain his conversational intent and
poised and outgoing, committed to            also inviting consent. He needs to
people and causes, sympathetic and           express himself more clearly and more
caring, with a rich but appropriate          completely which means that he is
emotional life, in other words, they are     giving his listeners the information they
comfortable with themselves, others, and     need to understand. He needs to ask
the social universe they live in. An         questions more “open-endedly” and
important part of preparing an               more creatively. He should also express
engineering student, besides teaching        more         appreciation,        gratitude,
him      the   theoretical    aspect    of   encouragement and delight to his
engineering, is to make him understand       workforce. Finally, a good engineer
his own emotional self and recognizing       should always make an effort to
feelings of others.                          communicate better which is an
                                             important part of his everyday life.
                                             Presentation skills is highly required in
(iv)Moral Ethics                             an engineering profession. The engineer
                                             needs to acquire all relevant information
Engineers are also required to be            and must be knowledgeable in the
sensitive about how their designs or         subject that he is presenting. He needs to
projects may effect the safety of the        gauge his audience, their major concern
people and the environment. This issue       and expectations and also the audience‟s
is taught in a subject entitled „Engineers   status and background as well as their
in Society‟ which used to be an elective     attitudes and values. A good presenter
offered by the faculty. Only recently this   tries to establish a good relationship with
his audience. The venue in which the                Meetings
presentation is held should be known so             Tasks you should have delegated
that a good        ambience is obtained             Procrastination and indecision
without      any     interruptions     and          Acting        with     incomplete
disturbances. The presenter must prepare             information
his subject thoroughly and make his                 Dealing with team members
introduction as interesting as possible.            Crisis management
The main points of the presentation
                                                    Unclear communication
should be stated clearly.He should use
                                                    Inadequate technical knowledge
charts or diagrams to clarify the subject
                                                    Unclear objectives and priorities
matter. The language used must be clear
and concise and where technical or                  Lack of planning
difficult subjects arise, he needs to               Stress and fatigue
explain or give examples. The presenter             Inability to say “No”
must try to vary his tone of voice so as to         Desk management and personal
make his presentation more interesting               disorganization
and he must ensure that his voice is
audible and he must not speak very fast       There are many ways we can manage
or very slow. As a presenter, body            our time effectively, the following list of
language is quite important so he must        strategies might be useful to manage our
be aware of unnecessary body                  time:-
movements and gestures which might                  Always define your objectives as
distract the audience. Care should also                clearly as possible.
be taken in facial expressions, and he has          Analyze your use of time
to try to make eye contact with the                 Have a plan
audience.                                           Action plan analysis

(vi)Time Management                           An engineer must always be proactive
                                              in his work and must be able to realize
A good engineer must be able to manage        that he is in charge, at least in charge of
his time very well and efficiently. He        his own morale. Your morale is in fact a
must be able to organize and be               state of mind that you can easily control.
productive in his work. An engineer is a      Having a positive attitude sets the scene
time manager and time management is           positively for the management of your
actually self management- the ability to      tasks and workload. If a task or project
plan, delegate, organize, direct and          seems complex or overwhelming, break
control. In order for a time management       it down into manageable steps that can
process to work it is important to know       be handled at one time.
what     aspects    of     our  personal
management need to be improved. The
most frequent reasons for reducing            3. General analysis of the results
effectiveness in the workplace can be
summarized as follows:-                       The performance of a group of
                                              engineering     students   from    our
      Interruptions e.g.       telephone,    department is taken as an example. The
       personal visitors                      examination results were monitored
from their first semester until the            scored A‟s; 31% scored B‟s and only
students graduate as engineers. Results        22% scored C‟s. This shows that the
of certain core subjects like electronics,     majority of students are in „tuned‟ with
circuit theory and communications were         the course by the time they reach their
observed for each of the years. As for         final year and a good indicator that the
electronics, it was observed that there is     students have been able to manage
a decline in performance when the              themselves efficiently. This will lead to
students reach second year, however            positive attitudes in their future working
performance improved in their final            environment.
year. As for circuit theory which is an
electrical engineering subject, the
students perform better as the years           The performance of the final year
progress which might indicate that a           students improved greatly in their final
deeper understanding of the subject is         year as compared to that of the first year.
obtained as the student gets into the          It can be concluded that when the
course.                                        students is in the first year, they are still
                                               fresh in the new environment. By the
From the cumulative group point                time they reach their final year they have
average (cgpa) results of a group of           been adapted to the university life. This
graduates       from      last      semester   was explained earlier that with proper
(1999/2000), it was observed that for the      guidance and motivation an average
first class students, there is an average of   student can improve in his academic
about 5% difference between their              performance.
results from first semester of their first
year to the final semester. However for        In all engineering courses, a final year
the Second-Class (Upper) students, the         project work is required to be submitted
percentage difference is higher with an        by a student before he is awarded an
average of about 10%. Likewise, the            engineering degree. The department
Second Class (Lower) students have             regards the final year project as an
about the same average of percentage           important course work before a student
difference. The results may indicate that      graduates as an engineer. Final year
an excellent student maintains his grades      projects are usually an indication on the
right from the beginning of the course         field of interest of the students. By the
whilst an average student has to put in        end of the year, the students are required
much effort to improve his grades.             to give a presentation of their work and
                                               this is a good exercise on their
It can be observed from the academic           communication skill comprising writing
performance of the students that by the        and verbal skills.
time they are in their final year, they are
well versed in their chosen subjects. For      It is also found that in general, a typical
example, when a final year student             first class student possesses all the above
chooses electronics as an elective, he         qualities that encompasses an all-round
normally performs reasonably well in           character to become a good engineer. He
the final exams. From the electronics III      or she is not only knowledgeable in his
examination results of final year of ‟99,      or her work but is able to interact
it was shown that 37% of the candidates        remarkably well not only with his peers
but also with his superiors and his        engineers given the right training and
subordinates. To very few people these     guidance initially from their lecturers
qualities come naturally whereas to most   and eventually from their employers.
people, they have to be guided, trained
and shown perhaps by example and
practice to become an „all round‟          Acknowledgement
engineer.
                                           The authors wish to thank Ms. Zunaida
4.Conclusions                              Al Wadood from the Department of
                                           Electrical      Engineering        and
We can safely conclude that the            Telecommunications, Universiti Malaya.
academic performances and all the
above mentioned factors such as
communication skills, good time            References
management, right motivation and
attitude are inter-related to produce a       1. Total     Success       Training;
good and balanced engineer.                      timemanagementtips.htm
                                              2. Lenny Laskowski Home Page;
From the author‟s point of view, the             http://www.ljlseminars.com
academic results obtained by the              3. Steve Chandler, “100 Ways to
graduating    electrical    engineering          Motivate Yourself – Change
students have indicated that the                 Your Life Forever”, Advantage
department has so far produced students          Quest Publications.
who have the potential to be good