Cultivating intercultural competencies for civil engineering students in the era of globalization: Case study

James M. Lafave, Hyun Sook Kang, Jeremy David Kaiser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article reports on a case study of incorporating a set of three cross-cultural intervention modules and critical reflections into a single semester's offering of a senior-level civil structural engineering integrated design course that also had significant group design project work. A comparison of findings from initial versus exit self-assessment and peer assessment instruments indicated that students in the class showed clear gains over the semester with respect to intercultural competencies related to their own behavioral flexibility and interaction relaxation when interacting with group members from different cultures, as well as with respect to the intercultural competency of group members from different cultures in terms of their identity maintenance. These findings were further supported qualitatively, through the students' initial and exit open-ended responses about cultural differences navigated among group members. The case study demonstrated that it is indeed possible to cultivate intercultural competencies in undergraduate engineering students, especially for a culturally and linguistically diverse classroom setting where students must interact frequently with their colleagues from different backgrounds, which can be helpful in terms of preparing students for modern professional engineering design practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5014008
JournalJournal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


  • Diversity
  • Engineering education
  • Integrated design course
  • Intercultural competency
  • Structural engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Industrial relations
  • Strategy and Management


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