Engineering Graduates’ Desired Competencies: Recommendations by Accreditation Boards of Some Countries

Posted on July 21, 2010


Author:  Sanjay Goel,


The EC2000 criteria defined by Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) of Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET),

United States, recommends that engineering graduates must attain:

  1. An ability to apply knowledge of math, science, and engineering,
  2. An ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as analyze and interpret data,
  3. An ability to design a system, component or process to meet desired needs,
  4. An ability to function in multi-disciplinary team,
  5. An ability to identify, formulate and solve engineering problems,
  6. An understanding professional and ethical responsibilities,
  7. An ability to communicate effectively,
  8. An understanding the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context,
  9. A recognition of need and ability to engage in life-long learning,
  10. A knowledge of contemporary issues, and
  11. An ability to use the techniques, skills and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.

The Technology Accreditation Commission (TAC) of ABET prescribes the following abilities for the graduates of an engineering technology program:

  1. An appropriate mastery of the knowledge, techniques, skills and modern tools of their disciplines,
  2. An ability to apply current knowledge and adapt to emerging applications of mathematics, science, engineering and technology,
  3. An ability to conduct, analyze and interpret experiments and apply experimental results to improve processes,
  4. An ability to apply creativity in the design of systems, components or processes appropriate to program objectives,
  5. An ability to function effectively on teams,
  6. An ability to identify, analyze and solve technical problems,
  7. An ability to communicate effectively,
  8. A recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in lifelong learning,
  9. An ability to understand professional, ethical, and social responsibilities,
  10. A respect for diversity and a knowledge of contemporary professional, societal and global issues, and
  11. A commitment to quality, timeliness, and continuous improvement.

The Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC) of ABET has proposed that the program outcomes for information technology and similarly named computing programs should minimally include the following abilities:

  1. Use and apply current technical concepts and practices in the core information technologies;
  2. The ability to analyze, identify and define the requirements that must be satisfied to address problems or opportunities faced by organizations or individuals,
  3. Design effective and usable it-based solutions and integrate them into the user environment,
  4. Assist in the creation of an effective project plan,
  5. Identify and evaluate current and emerging technologies and assess their applicability to address the users’ needs,
  6. Analyze the impact of technology on individuals, organizations and society, including ethical, legal, security, and global policy issues,
  7. Demonstrate an understanding of best practices and standards and their application,
  8. Demonstrate independent critical thinking and problem solving skills,
  9. Collaborate in teams to accomplish a common goal by integrating personal initiative and group cooperation,
  10. Communicate effectively and efficiently with clients, users and peers, both verbally and in writing, using appropriate terminology, and
  11. Recognize the need for continued learning throughout their career.

The United Kingdom Standards for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC) has prescribed that an Incorporated Engineer must be able to:

  1. Use a combination of general and specialist engineering knowledge and understanding to apply existing and emerging technology,
  2. Apply appropriate theoretical and practical methods to design, develop, manufacture, construct, commission, operate and maintain engineering products, processes, systems, and services,
  3. Provide technical and commercial management,
  4. Demonstrate effective interpersonal skills, and
  5. Demonstrate a personal commitment to professional standards, recognizing obligations to society, the profession and the environment.

The UK-SPEC further refines the first two of these competencies for Chartered Engineers. A Chartered Engineer must be able to:

  1. Use a combination of general and specialist engineering knowledge and understanding to optimize the application of existing and emerging technology, and
  2. Apply appropriate theoretical and practical methods to the analysis and solution of engineering problems.

The Institution of Engineers, Singapore (IES) defines the following competencies as part of its accreditation criteria of engineering programs:

  1. Apply knowledge of mathematics, science and engineering,
  2. Design and conduct experiments, analyze, interpret data and synthesize valid conclusions,
  3. Design a system, component, or process, and synthesize solutions to achieve desired needs,
  4. Identify, formulate, research through relevant literature review, and solve engineering problems reaching substantiated conclusions,
  5. Use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice, with appropriate considerations for public health and safety, cultural, societal, and environmental constraints,
  6. Communicate effectively,
  7. Recognize the need for, and have the ability to engage in life-long learning,
  8. Understand the impact of engineering solutions in a societal context and to be able to respond effectively to the needs for sustainable development,
  9. Function effectively within multi-disciplinary teams and understand the fundamental precepts of effective project management, and
  10. Understand professional, ethical and moral responsibility.

The Engineers Australia Accreditation Board has identified similar generic attributes that are as follows:

  1. Ability to apply knowledge of basic science and engineering fundamentals,
  2. Ability to communicate effectively, not only with engineers but also with the community at large,
  3. In depth technical competence in at least one engineering discipline,
  4. Ability to undertake problem identification, formulation, and solution,
  5. Ability to utilize a systems approach to design and operational performance,
  6. Ability to function effectively as an individual and in multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural teams, with the capacity to be a leader or manager as well as an effective team member,
  7. Understanding of social, cultural, global and environmental responsibilities of the professional engineers and the need of sustainable development,
  8. Understanding of the principles of sustainable design and development,
  9. Understanding of professional and ethical responsibilities and commitment to them, and
  10. Expectation of the need to undertake lifelong learning, and capacity to do so.

The Japan Accreditation Board for Engineering Education (JABEE) emphasizes the following competency set:

  1. The ability and intellectual foundation for considering issues from a global and multi-lateral viewpoint,
  2. Understanding of the effects and impact of technology on society and nature, and of engineers’ social responsibilities (engineering ethics),
  3. Knowledge of mathematics, natural sciences and information technology, and the ability to apply such knowledge,
  4. Specialized engineering knowledge in each applicable field, and the ability to apply such knowledge to provide solutions to actual problems,
  5. Design abilities to organize comprehensive solutions to societal needs by exploiting various disciplines of science, engineering and information,
  6. Japanese-language communications skills including methodical writing, verbal presentation and debate abilities, as well as basic skills for international communications,
  7. The ability to carry on learning on an independent and sustainable basis, and
  8. The ability to implement and organize works systematically under given constraints.

For further analysis, Please refer

1.  Sanjay Goel, Competency Focused Engineering Education with Reference to IT Related Disciplines:  Is Indian System Ready for Transformation? Journal of Information Technology Education, Vol. 5, Informing Science Institute, USA, pp 27-52,

2.  Sanjay Goel, Investigations on required core competencies for engineering graduates with reference to Indian IT industry, European Journal of Engineering Education, Taylor & Francis, UK, pp 607-617, October, 2006.



4.  Computing Graduates’ Desired Competencies: Some Professional Recommendations





Keywords:   Software Engineering Education, Computing Education, Computer Science Education, Engineering Education, Information Technology Education, Information Systems Education, College Education, Higher Education, Professional Education


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