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Engineering | 2003

“Engineering in the Real World: How to Succeed in Industry”

Sally McKee

"The biggest request…from my colleagues in industry is for job applicants with more effective communication skills."


Academic activities do not prepare students adequately in the many "soft skills" they will need in industry, particularly interpersonal communication. Proficiency in common software tools, such as presentation and calendaring, is assumed in the workplace but not necessarily taught in academia. ECE 595 uses team projects and a well-known game, Capture the Flag, to prepare engineering graduate students for leadership in industry. While learning to program and control Lego robots, students practice many skills essential for succeeding in industry, including written and oral communication, project management, team interaction, design review, and self-evaluation. Respect for cultural diversity is an important theme throughout the course.

Sally McKee introduced this course in response to a need articulated by industry colleagues. A team project was the key assignment that required students to learn and apply collaboration, communication and presentation skills. The FIT project team chose web-based portfolios as the means for students to share information and develop presentations within their project teams. Online surveys helped teams evaluate their own ability to work together and contributed to the overall evaluation of the course. Students were expected to self-assess and provide constructive feedback which was facilitated by streaming videos of their presentations. Calendaring software was also available for them to schedule team meetings outside of class time.


  • Dreamweaver to author and add content to student team eportfolios
  • Powerpoint for student presentations
  • Web-based surveys for team evaluations
  • Streaming video of team presentations
  • Electronic calendaring software
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