Emotional Intelligence in Engineering Management Education: The Missing Priority

Emotional Intelligence in Engineering Management Education: The Missing Priority

Marilena Antoniadou (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK), Mark Crowder (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK) and George Andreakos (Electricity North West, UK)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4063-3.ch005
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Abstract

This chapter aims to increase understanding of how engineering students can benefit from integrating emotional intelligence (EI) into engineering curricula at universities. In particular, it explores the nature of EI and argues for the greater use of EI within engineering education, but also considers the challenges of placing an emphasis on EI within this field. The chapter makes recommendations for how EI skills can be incorporated into engineering education and how universities can seize the opportunity to shape the modern engineer and advance the standing of engineering in the future. The chapter's contribution lies in raising awareness not just about the benefits of integrating EI within engineering education, but also on the challenges that an empathetic behaviour entail. The authors argue that university education needs to be able to prepare graduates with engineering fundamentals and also for success and actual on-the-job EI skills.
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Emotional Intelligence (Ei)

EI suggests that some people might be more socially and emotionally effective than others in certain aspects of life (Goleman, 1995; Salovey and Mayer, 1990). Goleman, at the beginning of his book on EI, cites Aristotle’s words: ‘[A]nyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way – this is not easy’ (Goleman, 1995: ix). For Aristotle, those people who know their emotions and know how to deal with them at the right time have a significant advantage in all aspects of their lives, which manifests as the first reference of EI and the importance of emotion in human relationships (Langley, 2000). Similarly, EI involves an array of capabilities, competencies and skills that Goleman categorised in five domains: self-awareness, self-regulation and persistence, motivation, empathy and social skills to handle relationships (Goleman, 1995). Essentially, the first three are personal competencies that determine how people manage themselves, while the remaining two are social competencies which determine how they manage relationships. In particular, empathy – the ability to know and experience the emotions of another person (Duan and Hill, 1996) – is already recognised by the engineering education literature as a core skill, practice orientation and way of being (Walther et al., 2017) and involves showing that the other person’s thoughts and emotions are understood and communicated. As such, engineers face challenges when they are to manage project groups and be leaders for organisations because such positions demand skills in social competence and empathy (Rasoal, Danielsson and Jungert, 2012).

In this respect, EI has been proposed as an intrinsically important element in engineering education so that graduates are not only prepared with engineering fundamentals, but also for success and actual on-the-job skills (Riemer, 2003). More specifically, construction firms are seeking graduates with exceptional management and leadership skills to be able to improve interpersonal relationships and to successfully fulfil projects (Dulaimi, 2005), highlighting the influence of academic education and formal training on engineers’ behaviour. Moreover, the skills that engineering graduates ought to have include interpersonal skills, teamwork, and motivation (Dulaimi and Langford, 1999). It should be noted that EI should not be considered as a replacement for knowledge, ability or job skills, but instead it enhances work skills. However, Goleman has highlighted that EI abilities were about four times more important than an individual’s IQ in determining professional success and prestige – even for those with a scientific background (Goleman, 1998).

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