More Competent Engineers: the New Challenge for the University

Ingenieros competentes

The globalized world, characterized by intense competition in diverse economic spheres and plagued by uncertainty, chaos, complexity, instability and social imbalances of diverse kinds, necessarily leads to a re-examination of the role that the university has traditionally played as an agent for “building and transmitting knowledge.”

It is thus viewed as a priority for the University to generate social capital with the ability to effectively transfer and apply knowledge. This in turn essentially leads to training engineers that can go beyond the limits of simply assimilating constructs, budgets and theoretical models, to become competent professionals to deal with the particular and inherent demands of each field of employment, as recently and convincingly put forward by researchers Roberto Giordano Lerena and Sandra Cirimelo, in their article “Competencias en ingeniería y eficacia institucional” (“Engineering Competencies and Institutional Effectiveness”) in the journal Ingeniería Solidaria.

This necessarily leads to a change in the curricula for engineers in our country and at our institution. In this sense, changes must be generated in academic and pedagogical practices leading to the effective creation of real learning contexts, more closely related to business reality and not just theoretical modeling. With constant follow-up and measurement, such initiatives would lead to the development of professional skills among graduates to enable them to successfully deal with the challenges of the socio-productive sector.

These changes must help to eliminate the gap that exists between what we teach at the university and what the productive sector expects from our graduates in terms of performance. Curricula must therefore have the capacity to specifically boost technological, social, political, attitudinal and enterprise skills that the above-mentioned researchers have so correctly stated.

It is thus important to consider the development of such skills based on the creation of an academic management that guarantees adequate planning and use of resources and talents so that the university, and in this case the engineering faculty, can give rise to competitive professionals to deal with the challenges described above.


Yovanny Vela Sáenz

Yovanny Vela Saénz is a research professor at the Engineering Faculty at the Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia.