SimInt: A Structured Experience to Develop Mature Engineering Mindset

Ruben Acuna, Ajay Bansal

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This Innovative Practice Work in Progress presents using the concept of a simulated internship to transition students to problems (and environments) which resemble those found in industry or research. New engineering graduates struggle not just with the lack of technical skills specific to a company but have issues in generalizing their existing skill set. They also lack procedural knowledge that is contextual to industry (e.g., dealing with stakeholders, communicating solutions). This requires an educational setting that is more conducive to practical problems than a typical course - students already acquire the needed technical skills but instead need to practice applying and integrating them. This can be supported with the creation of a simulated internship (SimInt) environment that aims to enable development and assessment of outcomes that more accurately capture solving real world problems than current technical skill outcomes. Although students who can complete an internship are already able to mature their skills, some students, for many reasons, are unable to pursue such opportunities. This can be addressed with SimInt. We propose a course to mimic the environment of an internship: students would be assigned a large-scale problem that is open-ended and ill-defined and solve the problem in the context of a simulated company. The focus of this experience would be on maturing problem-solving skills rather than practicing specific technical skills. This would involve integrating aspects of process (e.g., applying with a resume, interviewing, etc.), the environment of working with different stakeholders, and the development of solutions. In this work, we contribute a model for a real-world work environment that captures aspects not found in a typical classroom environment. We describe the differences between typical content-based course (e.g., lecture, flipped) and the new model. The model is described in terms of system elements and interactions between them that are conducive to student learning. SimInt is intended to offer an experience similar to a capstone while supporting scalability and being more appropriate as a formative experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2021 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2021
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781665438513
StatePublished - 2021
Event2021 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2021 - Lincoln, United States
Duration: Oct 13 2021Oct 16 2021

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565


Conference2021 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • engineering education
  • industry preparation
  • problem-solving
  • software engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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