Villanova University’s College of Engineering was recently awarded a $87,000 grant from the United Engineering Foundation to pilot a new initiative called the Career Compass Collaborative, which seeks to enhance professional development training for undergraduate engineering students.
Students entering the workforce today are preparing for careers, not jobs. As such, an engineer’s technical education needs to be placed within the context of the larger world. And while the demands for robust professional development training are very real, so are hours needed to meet the technical requirements of an undergraduate engineering degree. So, in 2015, the College partnered with Villanova’s Career Center to launch the Career Compass program to better prepare new engineers for the transition into the workplace and toward a rewarding career in the profession.
Career Compass has four themes: The Engineering Profession, Setting the Stage for Personal and Professional Success, Post-Graduation Career Planning, and Effective Communication Skills for the 21st Century. The program’s self-directed pace and hybrid content delivery structure, including online videos, professional events/presentations, and in-person workshops, accommodates the undergraduate course schedule. In addition to offering specific guidance in ethical behavior, group dynamics, networking, and oral and written communication, students are given the direction they need to pursue and achieve their professional goals. Further, every student is paired with a Villanova engineering alumni volunteer mentor throughout their second and third years, who provide real, personal, and professional advice to undergraduates.
This year, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET), the accrediting body for engineering programs, recognized Career Compass as an Institutional Strength. Career Compass subsequently secured ABET’s 2021 Innovation Award, which “recognizes vision and commitment that challenge the status-quo in technical education.” Now with the support of the United Engineering Foundation, Villanova is proud to share its innovative model with other engineering educators and career development staff.
Consistent with the mission of the United Engineering Foundation, the Collaborative seeks to do “Good for the Engineering Profession.” Through a series of online presentations, campus visits and a collaborative workshop to be held on Villanova’s campus in summer 2022, the Collaborative will “train the trainers” how to implement this best practice model for engineering professional development. Furthermore, with its emphasis upon ethics and equity in the profession, the Collaborative hopes to contribute to the development of future engineers who do “Good for the Public.”
Frank Falcone, AP, PE, D.WRE, Director of Professional Development and Experiential Education and Director of Career Compass notes, “The goal of this exceptional United Engineering Foundation Grant is to build better, more holistic, more socially and culturally conscious engineers and, in so doing, to build a better, more interconnected and more mutually respectful world”.