Understanding engineering work and identity: a cross-case analysis of engineers within six firms

TitleUnderstanding engineering work and identity: a cross-case analysis of engineers within six firms
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsAnderson, KJohn Boyet, Courter, SShaw, McGlamery, T, Nathans-Kelly, TM, Nicometo, CG
JournalEngineering Studies
Date Published2010/12/01
Publication Languageeng
ISBN Number1937-8629
AbstractTo better equip engineers to enter a dynamic technological and economic environment, educators must improve their understanding of the wide-ranging work of engineers and the flexible skills it demands. To that end, we studied engineering practice in six firms of varying size and industry. We analyzed the similarities and differences of engineering practice across these sites, and gathered narrative examples of what it means to be an engineer at these locations. Our data indicates more similarities across sites than differences. Although workplace cultures differed, most engineers saw their work similarly. They saw their work as problem solving, almost always done in explicitly organized teams or in informal collaboration with others. Engineers cited clear communication as the most important skill, with budgets and time limitations generally noted as the most significant constraints. Engineers generally valued solving a problem, learning, and working in a team more than other aspects of their jobs. This understanding of engineering work can be used to better equip engineers for the workforce and improve organizational practices.