Developing professional competencies through challenge to project experiences

Brock E. Barry, Sean P. Brophy, William C. Oakes, Margaret Katherine Banks, Sybil E. Sharvelle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Industry can contribute significantly toward a dynamic engineering curriculum. A major theme in the industry-based dialogue with universities is that engineering graduates need to improve their professional skills; including written proficiencies, oral communication expertise, and teamwork skills. The authors have redesigned a course that combines water and wastewater treatment into a challenge-based instruction that develops both the students' conceptual and professional competences associated with civil engineering. The university joined with an industry partner to use their existing facility as an anchor for challenge-based learning activity. Opportunities for students to demonstrate and practice professional skills were extensively integrated into the design experience. While challenge-based instruction concepts are by no means new. the principles have not previously found widespread application within the civil engineering discipline. The objective of this study was to investigate student experiences for learning both content and professional competencies within a wastewater treatment course. A major finding of this study is that the traditional lecture style course could he redesigned in a manner that develops students' expectation of what it means to he a professional and the skills associated with that, while at the same time advancing their knowledge of wastewater treatment. The students self-reported that the most significant aspects of the learning experience were those related to their professional competencies. Those particular learning experiences relate directly to the skills requested by industry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1148-1162
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2008


  • Challenge-based instruction
  • Learning cycle
  • Problem-based learning
  • Professional competencies
  • STAR legacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Developing professional competencies through challenge to project experiences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this