CEPS Undergraduate Poster Session: Finding Value in Engineering Complementary Studies

Posted on Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

Written by Eden D'souza

Eden D'souza in front of her poster
Eden D'souza at the CEPS Undergraduate Poster Session

On Thursday, August 2nd the University of Guelph held its annual CEPS Undergraduate Poster Session in the Summerlee Science Complex. It was here I was able to showcase my research that I worked on all summer with my supervisors, Dr John Donald and Dr Sofie Lachapelle. Our research focused on evaluating the importance of complementary studies to first-year engineering students at the University of Guelph.

Complementary studies and electives are critical in building a well rounded, socially diverse engineer. Engineers must be critical and analytical at all times, but they must also possess other skills like communication, ethics, and critical thinking. Complementary studies like humanities, social sciences, and philosophy help build and shape well-rounded engineers ready to enter the real world. The value of complementary studies during the undergraduate degree is vital in preparing future engineers.

All engineers at the University of Guelph must complete 2.00 credits in complementary studies because it is an accreditation requirement. The focus of this research is to determine whether engineers find value in taking these mandatory courses to help better their futures.

Previous studies found that most engineers did not understand the place of complementary studies in the engineering degree, thus a website and animated video was created to help inform engineers of the value of non-technical electives[1]. An online survey was then created to evaluate the usefulness of the website in helping first-year engineering students understand the value of complementary studies. It was found that 81% of students that completed the survey actually read through the website and found it a helpful tool. The survey also found that 72% of students found that they understood the importance of complementary studies for their engineering degree and futures.

Overall the CEPS poster session was an extremely fun and innovative way to present and distribute undergraduate research. The CEPS poster session was a very interactive and social environment where feedback and discussion were encouraged and supported. Events like the CEPS poster session allow undergraduate research to be showcased and gives the opportunity for students to interact and present research findings to peers, graduate students, professors and the industry.

Research work on complementary studies and the value of soft skills in the engineering degree will continue and future improvements to the complementary studies website will be made based on feedback received from the 2018 online survey. The ultimate goal with this research is to help engineering students realize that they must have both the technical skills and soft skills to be successful engineers ready to work in the real world. 

[1] https://www.uoguelph.ca/engineering/complementary-studies/home

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