In 2016, Villanova University College of Engineering launched Career Compass, a required professional development curriculum for undergraduates, designed to ensure that students possess not only the technical skills expected of every engineer, but also the professional skills needed to succeed in any career. Recognizing the value of professional development for all students, the College has established a program uniquely designed for its PhDs.
“The fundamental character of Villanova includes high-quality teaching and close attention to the student, as well as development of the whole person as embodied by Veritas, Unitas, Caritas,” explains Dr. Gerard Jones, Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research. While the College currently offers some preparation for students who might pursue an academic position after graduation, Dr. Jones says, “There is a need to do more.”
Before developing this program, Dr. Jones and his team undertook an extensive review of 20 engineering colleges in the United States. They found that, while the majority offer some form of professional development opportunities, none of them has a required professional program for all doctoral students. “A required PD program will make Villanova Engineering singular in the U.S., strengthening our distinctiveness and brand,” notes Dr. Jones.
The fundamental element of the College of Engineering’s plan is a core course that will cover topics such as communication, diversity and inclusion, teamwork, management, leadership, ethics and more. A student who completes the required core course will have it recorded their transcript. However, a student who satisfactorily completes this course, plus a required minimum number of “supplements” (a selection of additional courses and experiences) will receive a certificate, also recorded on their transcript.
“Students will choose either an academic or industry track,” explains Dr. Jones, “which will make it very specific and appropriate for their desired career path.”
The College looks forward to enrolling its first doctoral students in the new professional development program in spring 2019.