This past Friday and Saturday, the UNL College of Engineering hosted the 4th annual Complete Engineer conference. There were workshops, networking, snacks, and the best part, free company swag!
The complete engineering initiative began as a response to companies’ perception of the areas engineering students lacked coming into the workforce. All had the technical knowhow to succeed, but many lacked the soft skills necessary to excel. To combat this issue, the college identified six core competencies with the companies to help students become more well-rounded and, well, complete. These six are intercultural appreciation, teamwork, leadership, self-management, engineering ethics, and service and civic responsibility.
Intercultural appreciation involves understanding and appreciating the differences of cultures and individuals. This is important for dealing with others in the workforce and dealing with projects impacting other communities.
Teamwork is crucial for any group success, which is imperative for engineers who often work in groups.
Leadership is not only important for those trying to move up once they get into a company, but any engineer who leads others to a solution. This is often every engineer.
Self-management involves not only time-management, but also self-reflection and constant growth. If you cannot manage yourself, it could often negatively affect those who rely on you.
Engineering ethics is not always at the forefront of anyone’s mind when they initially make a decision or come up with an idea. However, the effect on a community or individuals is extremely important to consider. Engineers often have to make hard decisions on whether the negative consequences to others are worth a bonus or improving the companies’ profits.
Service and civic responsibility is honestly the core of engineering. Engineers are here to serve humanity and the world. Making sure decisions are for the betterment of mankind and provide accessible improvements is important.
This conference involved four workshops. There were ones in each competency offered, as each block has four possible workshops to attend. The first I attended was about environmental regulations and how those impact engineers. This was geared towards the service competency as serving the world means making sure we are not damaging it.
The second I attended was about the ethics of a new invention. And important point brought up at this session was the ethics of releasing an invention to the world that will better others’ lives, but a big corporation could buy it or get a hold of it and use it to make a large profit, therefore hurting the people who need it.
The third session was about the Emergenetics behavioral profile. Understanding how everyone has certain strengths is important for forming a team and working with others. The presenters shared how having a team with individuals strong in each of the four different areas generally produces a solid team that accomplishes things well. This was obviously towards teamwork.
The final session was about setting SMART goals and understanding how to manage or time better. This model of making goals is fairly helpful and improves the likelihood of completing a goal.
The conference had a mixer where I got lots of free stuff. These mixers give students and opportunity to talk to companies, even if their discipline is different, and learn what employers value. There was also some awesome fried macaroni and cheese.
There were two keynote speakers, during the welcome on the first day about speaking about ethics and during the lunch on the second day speaking about leadership. Both were excellent and definitely got us to think about things we had yet to consider.
The final activity was a design competition. We were given a neighborhood to build a community on. Each neighborhood had varying challenges to show disparities in community aid. Even though we were the group with the most resources, we had a pretty cool neighborhood.
This conference definitely helped me grow in the different competencies and consider ways to improve where I lack and become close to a complete engineer.