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Owning Your Career: Taking a Hard Look at ‘Soft’ Skills

By Garrett Forsythe |

A personal development strategy helps to set engineers up for success in their personal and professional lives As chemical engineers, we have been trained to be data-driven, fact-based problem-solvers. This focus serves us well when we are tackling difficult technical problems and developing and executing process improvements. However, the need to cover so many technical areas in a chemical engineering curriculum often leaves little time for some of the “liberal arts” side of education, such as communication, psychology, writing skills and more. As chemical engineering students, we have enough challenges with kinetics, thermodynamics, fluid dynamics and process laboratory courses (Figure 1). So many of us enter the work world with a good technical foundation, but often with some skill gaps that we are not fully aware of yet. Figure 1. The need to cover so many technical areas in a chemical engineering curriculum often leaves little time for some of the “liberal arts” side of education[/caption] After all, awareness and effectiveness in some of these “soft skills” are crucial for personal and professional success. These include additional topics, like understanding personalities, identifying one’s strengths and weaknesses,…
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