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Xu Xinrui_The Self-efficacy Inventory for Professional Engineering Competency (SEIPEC)
Although ABET has outlined educational outcomes to help prepare students with the necessary competencies to succeed in professional engineering practice, it is unclear how confident students are in their professional engineering skills. Competency refers to the“generic, integrated and internalized capability to deliver sustainable effective performance in a certain professional domain, job, role, organizational context, and task situation.” Understanding their competency provides students with a bridge to connect their academic experiences with their ability to perform their workplace duties. To help students assess their competency, I developed the Self-efficacy Inventory for Professional Engineering Competency (SEIPEC), an inventory that aims to measure engineering students’ self-efficacy for professional engineering competencies. Unlike other inventories in engineering that measure the academic experience or other self-efficacy inventories that do not focus on the engineering population, this career assessment is designed for college-level engineering students to evaluate their subjective readiness for successful performance in the workplace.
SEIPEC is a tool for students to self-assess their professional competencies, aiming to empower students to become reflective about their learning and increase awareness of workplace competencies. SEIPEC was developed based on the American Association of Engineering Societies’ Engineering Competency Model (ECM). The ECM identifies factors that contribute to self-efficacy for professional engineering competency. ECM was developed using the Delphi method and encompasses a comprehensive list of competency statements that were approved by industry leaders and engineering educators to encapsulate the competencies needed for a professional engineer.
The data include 434 complete responses from bachelor’s and master’s students at a Midwest research-intensive university. The sample represents 13 engineering disciplines, such as electrical and computer engineering and mechanical engineering, and includes 282 male and 146 female students, 48 first-generation students, and 63 international students. After the exploratory factor analysis and the confirmatory factor analysis, a four-factor model with 20 competency statements was validated as the measurement for self-efficacy for professional engineering competency. The four factors that contribute to the self-efficacy of professional engineering competency include (a) sustainability and societal impact, (b) health and safety, (c) application of tools and technologies, and (d) engineering economics.
The SEIPEC tool has the potential to empower engineering students to reflect upon and connect their academic experience with professional competencies. SEIPEC would provide students with a method to self-evaluate their skills in addition to other assessment methods such as course grades and traditional engineering exams. The results of self-assessment for professional engineering competencies could increase students’ awareness of professional competencies, thus helping students to become more intentional in connecting learning with their professional preparation. Career advisors and counselors can also use this tool to guide career advising conversations revolving around students’ choice to pursue and prepare for engineering as a career path.