April 2, 2002

Contact: Bob Bruce, 503-725-5700
Source: Bob Dryden, 503-725-5705

Engineering Poll: State Grads Rated Ready for Job but Need Additional Skills

PORTLAND - Recently hired engineering and computer-science graduates from Oregon public universities have been rated by their employers as well prepared for their job, according to an innovative survey just completed by the Oregon University System. The employers say, however, there is room for improvement in some critical skill areas.

Those are some of the results from the Engineering Education Roundtable (EER), created by Robert D. Dryden, OUS vice chancellor for engineering and computer science. The roundtable is part of the effort to improve the quality of engineering education in the state. More than 200 veteran engineering and technology managers, as well as human resource professionals, have agreed to participate in the Roundtable by responding to a series of online questionnaires.

"No meetings are required. It's a virtual advisory board using the latest online opinion-gathering technology," Dryden says. The EER questionnaire was fielded in early March, with responses from 124 professionals from throughout the state.

Respondents said they liked the state system graduates because of their: aptitude for teamwork, computational skills, ability to work in small groups, openness to new ideas, familiarity with technology, ability to work as a sole contributor, talent for problem solving and an ability to collect, analyze and report data.

"While our graduates received solid ratings, Roundtable participants said they would like new graduates to have stronger communications skills, greater familiarity with state-of-the-art equipment and a better understanding of how to work in large project teams," Dryden says.

Survey details may be found on the vice chancellor's new Website: www.OregonEngineer.org.

In the poll, survey respondents said:

Grads compete for jobs: The biggest challenge to Oregon graduates comes from recruitment policies at high-tech and other companies. Almost all the companies say they recruit from schools nationwide, and several recruit globally. The encouraging news is that many Oregon companies prefer to hire locally because it helps lower the cost of filling open positions.

Hiring outlook hopeful? The study found that about two out of five respondents (39 percent) believed there would be an increase in industry hiring of engineers and computer scientists. More than half (55 percent) expects hiring levels to remain at least the same. After a recession that saw unemployment levels in Oregon become the worst in the nation, this suggests some positive news for job seekers.

The next Roundtable questionnaire will be posted in June. Working engineers, human resource and information technology managers, and technical planning professionals who want to join the Vice Chancellor's Roundtable can do so by filling out a registration form at www.OregonEngineer.org.


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