The 'flattening of the world', using Thomas Friedman's phraseology, is driving corporations to increasingly use collaborative engineering processes and global teams to operate on a global scale. Globalization of the traditional university engineering curriculum is necessary to help students prepare to work in a global environment. More scalable and economically sustainable program types are needed to enable the majority of students to obtain a globalized education. The purpose of this research was to determine how effectively a global team- and project-based computer aided engineering course provided learning opportunities that enabled students to develop elements of global competence in comparison to existing engineering study abroad programs. To accomplish this, research was necessary to identify, aggregate, and validate a comprehensive set of global competencies for engineering students. From a review of the literature and subsequent analysis, a set of twenty-three global competencies with an associated conceptual model was developed to group the competencies by contextual topics. Two surveys were then developed and distributed separately to academic and industry professionals, each of which groups largely confirmed that it was important for engineering students to develop these global competencies. Next, the traditional ME 471 class was restructured into a Global ME 471 course. A pilot program was conducted from which lessons learned were incorporated into the global course. Selected global competencies were included as new learning outcomes. Course learning materials, labs, and lectures were also updated to reflect the new course emphasis. A survey was developed to be sent to BYU engineering study abroad students and the Global ME 471 course during 2010. A statistical analysis of responses was used to identify significant differences between the response groups. In addition to the global competencies which were identified and validated, global collaborative project-based courses such as Global ME 471 were shown to be effective in enabling students to learn and develop selected global competencies. Study abroad programs and the Global ME 471 course were seen both to be complementary in their emphasis and supportive of global engineering. In addition, global collaborative project-based courses were shown to play an important part of a globalized engineering curriculum.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





Aaron Ball, global competence, global competencies, cross-cultural competence, cross cultural competencies, engineering education, global engineering education, ME 471, engineering study abroad, global virtual team, multicultural team, intercultural competence