Some argue that education does not end at technical expertise. The argument highlights the fact that some highly trained professionals do struggle to share their expertise due to lack of communication skills. Hence the argument that education actually extends to the ability to communicate and successfully convey and present information.
To try to prepare its students from facing that challenge, American University of Sharjah (AUS) is stressing the need for students studying in all majors to take communication courses; In fact, the College of Engineering at AUS has mandated the ENG 207 to be taken by all engineers to meet this objective.
The class, ENG 207: English for engineers is a technical communications course offered as a requirement to all engineering students at AUS. It is aimed at the development of the students’ communication skills for their future workplace. For example, after having completed the course, the students will have thorough knowledge of how to act in an interview, write CVs, write reports, write formal letters, etc… Most importantly; though, the students learn teamwork skills through the Engineering Multidisciplinary Project (EMDP).
Being a multidisciplinary project not only teaches conventional teamwork skills, but it also simulates the future workplace environment where the students will most probably be working side by side with engineers of other majors. The findings of the students have to be presented in a poster presentation towards the end of each semester. However, since the presentation does not happen at the end of the semester, the students are not expected to have completed the project at the time of the presentation. The students were very eager to get done with their posters and hang them up on the allocated boards. In fact, if you passed by the engineering buildings the week before the presentations, you would have noticed groups of 3 or 4 engineers, running around plotters and computers trying to neat up their posters and get them up and running. After the posters were hung up, students asked their professors to pre-asses them, and advise if they need to improve something in their poster or in their presentation technique.
The assessment process was slightly different from what it was in the previous semesters. This time, the assessors consisted of two professors and a senior engineering student. The assessors were handed a piece of paper which contained the criteria for grading the students based on aspects such as: Content, presentation skills, design of the poster. The total grades from each assessor were handed to the instructor who calculated the average which was also the students’ final grade in the project.
People who visited the presentation generally had mixed feelings towards the event. So, we have decided to write this blog to provide a platform for everyone to discuss, comment or share how they felt towards the event in an attempt to improve the event for prospective students.
After your comments, please let us know who you are, i.e., student, faculty, assessor or just a fan.
Gureni Lukwaro is a Writer, Editor and Social Media Manager at the American University of Sharjah.