CPACE Advisory Board Meeting July 30, 2009 Project Overview

Aligning Computing Education with Engineering Workforce Needs: Project Overview


Industries and educational institutions across the country are experiencing rapidly changing skill requirements of jobs at all levels to remain globally competitive, particularly in the (STEM) disciplines.  These rapid workforce changes present challenges to job seekers, employers, educators, and workforce and economic development professionals.

  •       A Collaborative Process to Align Computing Education (CPACE) with Engineering Workforce Needs. CPACE is a community building project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). It is also part of a broader regional collaborative effort to transform mid-Michigan's economy and workforce
  •       The CPACE project brings together Michigan State University, Lansing Community College, and the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce in a process to transform undergraduate computing education in the engineering and technology fields.
  •       The project team engaged with stakeholders from multiple sectors to identify the industry-desired computational tools and problem-solving skills and to define how these skills can be integrated across disciplinary curricula.
  •      More detailed information about the project and analysis of the research findings is provided in the 2009 Business and Industry Report and Executive Summary located at
  •       By explicitly making the connection between computing concepts and disciplinary problem solving, engineering graduates will enter the workforce more able to formulate industry problem for computational tools, select the right computational tool for a given industry problems apply the tool appropriately, and analyze the results from the tool clearly and concisely.

For Employers:

1. Computational skills. Improve interaction with university faculty on industry needs for computational skills and "adaptive thinking." Provide faculty with real-world problems, students with "work like" projects, and builds the university's knowledge of the "state of the art" trends and issues in engineering fields.

2. Non-computational skills. Strengthen feedback to educators about soft skills - both in career services and in the curricula. The package of skills is what counts.

3. Employee orientation investment. More formalized employee orientation processes known as "onboarding" can dramatically improve productivity.

For Universities and Colleges:

1. Computational skills. Project-based learning experiences should be embedded in the curriculum throughout all four academic years. Leverage collaboration between disciplinary engineering faculty and computer science faculty help design authentic, real-world problems as suggested by industry.

2. Non-computational skills. Expanding cross-departmental collaboration represents another avenue to develop holistic engineers. Employers' emphasis on cross-discipline reinforces the idea that engineers should have experience with various types of engineering.

3.  Employer engagement. Proactively engaging and learning from employers as part of a comprehensive feedback loop can improve the fit between student's knowledge and experience and employer's talent expectations. This kind of linkage is also encouraged by ABET processes.