Resilience in Engineering Education



Ann-Kristin Winkens

Research Associate


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Competencies for Designing Resilient Systems in Engineering Education

In an increasingly complex world, the perception of risks and the handling of hazards are becoming more relevant. Given the increasing frequency of environmental and natural disasters, it seems obvious that dealing with them appropriately is of particular relevance. This requires competencies that are characterized in terms of resilience by coping mechanisms, adaptation and transformational learning.

As designers of habitats and technology, engineers share responsibility for shaping a safe, sustainable and socially acceptable human future. As part of the ethical principles formulated by the Association of German Engineers (VDI), they commit themselves, among other things, to reflect on the embedding of technical systems in social, economic and ecological contexts and to understand their future effects. While an intense discourse about the relevance of sustainability in higher education in the sense of a “shaping competence” has already emerged, the focus is not yet on skills that are important with regards to dealing with unknown events. Therefore, this dissertation will examine to what extent competencies for designing resilient systems, such as systems thinking, risk management, analysis with uncertainty or dealing with change and complexity, can be acquired in university education by prospective engineers. As such competencies are already listed in the CDIO syllabus, which formulates goals for the future education of engineers, the analysis will build upon said syllabus.

As part of a qualitative literature analysis of selected journal publications, the state of the scientific discourse within Europe and comparatively in the USA with regards to resilience-related competencies in engineering education is analyzed. Furthermore, diploma supplements of selected environment-related master’s courses of the IDEA League universities, which form a central element of the scientific community for engineering education in Europe, are examined with regards to resilience-related competencies using a qualitative content analysis.

Finally, implications for key competencies of engineers should be formulated, which can be implemented in curricula.


Resilience, Engineering Education, CDIO, IDEA League