The Importance of Soft Skills in Engineering Education

Gauri Bhasin
Gauri Bhasin
Posted on 02 Sep 2023
10:58 AM

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Attributes like effective communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and adaptability play a significant role in shaping adept engineers for our intricate world
Soft skills like active listening, empathy, and conflict resolution facilitate an environment where creativity flourishes, fostering innovative solutions

"In a world where job roles are changing rapidly, soft skills will be one of the few constants." This statement by Chris Jones resonates deeply, particularly in the realm of engineering education, where the focus extends beyond technical prowess to encompass the vital sphere of soft skills. This shift is validated by STEM employers, with 72% considering soft skills as pivotal as technical ones during hiring.

Attributes like effective communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and adaptability play a significant role in shaping adept engineers for our intricate world. Consider Steve Jobs who, when unveiling the first Macintosh in 1984, not only showcased technical brilliance but also demonstrated exceptional communication, igniting excitement. This underscores the influential role of soft skills in engineering education—a resounding testament to its undeniable impact within the field.

Effective communication, the fundamental pillar of human interaction, seamlessly weaves its threads into the fabric of engineering. The ability to articulate intricate designs, proposals, and concepts with precision remains of the utmost importance. Engineers must transcend technical language, presenting their visions in ways that captivate fellow professionals and stakeholders alike.


Within this context, soft skills emerge as indispensable conduits, adroitly bridging gaps and nurturing the seamless execution of projects. As engineers navigate the intricate negotiations inherent in extensive infrastructure ventures, such as bridges and dams, the spotlight on robust negotiation skills intensifies. These skills ensure fairness among stakeholders while upholding project viability.

This significance gains further support from the findings of the National Academy of Engineering's study, which notably indicates that soft skills play a role in up to 80% of job performance.

Modern engineering thrives on collaboration and partnerships, making teamwork an essential soft skill. The multifaceted nature of projects mandates the harmonious integration of diverse talents. Engineers must adeptly navigate complex webs of cooperation, assimilate a spectrum of perspectives, and merge them into cohesive units. Soft skills like active listening, empathy, and conflict resolution facilitate an environment where creativity flourishes, fostering innovative solutions.

Engineers, as the true visionaries shaping our modern world, also shoulder their most formidable challenges. This intimate connection renders engineering synonymous with conquering complexities. At its core, engineering is grounded in problem-solving, transcending mere numerical enigmas. However, the infusion of soft skills elevates this discipline, blending analytical acumen with creativity.

This harmonious blend finds its most vivid expression within the context of the Chandrayaan-3 mission. In this endeavor, technical prowess is seamlessly intertwined with collaboration, inventive thinking, and effective implementation, underpinning the resounding triumph of Chandrayaan-3.

The emergence of sustainable technologies exemplifies the synergy between soft skills and technical prowess, as engineers confront multifaceted puzzles that require a holistic perspective. In this context, engineers not only decipher complex environmental dynamics but also engage in collaborative efforts with experts from diverse fields. Their role extends beyond technical complexities to effectively communicate insights to non-technical stakeholders.

Take the urban renewable energy system, for example. Engineers involved in this initiative must not solely command technical expertise for system design and execution but also wield aptitude for harmonious collaboration with urban planners, environmental scientists, and decision-makers. They must adeptly elucidate the system's advantages to the broader populace and governmental authorities, thereby bridging the divide between intricate technicalities and tangible real-world outcomes. This mandate underscores the imperative for proficiencies in seamless communication, collaborative teamwork, and the capacity to champion eco-conscious methodologies.

Soft skills empower engineers to transcend traditional boundaries, transforming into advocates for sustainable solutions. Their proficiency in communication, teamwork, and interdisciplinary collaboration allows them to facilitate dialogues that shape a greener and more sustainable future. In a world where engineering challenges are increasingly intertwined with social, economic, and environmental considerations, the fusion of soft skills and technical expertise becomes a pivotal driver of positive change.

Beyond technical expertise, engineering encompasses fostering collaboration, inspiring innovation, and nurturing a safety-oriented culture. The Ford Pinto debacle exemplifies this concept. In 1970, engineers prioritized cost reduction over safety, resulting in severe accidents. The Pinto, a Ford subcompact car, gained notoriety for erupting in flames upon gas tank rupture. However, an empathy-driven approach and user-centered design could have averted the tragedy by prioritizing user safety.

Hence, as engineering progresses, the amalgamation of technical skills with empathetic leadership becomes imperative. Empathy ensures a safer, more responsible engineering approach, yielding positive impacts on individuals and society at large. It's high time that engineering education evolves and embraces this symbiotic relationship, ushering forth a new cadre of proficient, well-rounded engineers poised to shape a dynamic future.

About The Author

Dr Gauri Bhasin, an accomplished leader in business strategy, Marketing Communication, and Branding, possesses over 20 years of professional experience. Currently serving as the Chief Operating Officer at MRVPL and as Executive Director for Marketing, Admissions, Learning and development at Manav Rachna Educational Institutions, she's recognized for her pivotal role in shaping the institution's brand proposition. Driven by values like integrity and passion, Dr Bhasin aspires to bridge the gap between business aspirations and achievements. Her academic background includes roles at esteemed institutions like the University of Economics, Prague, and SK Institute of Management Studies. She's a renowned speaker and scholar, holding a doctorate and master's degrees and certifications, and has received the prestigious "Young Achiever Award" at the National Employability Conclave.

Last updated on 02 Sep 2023
10:59 AM
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