There is mounting evidence to show that engineers need more than technical skills to succeed
in industry. In this paper we describe a curriculum innovation in which so-called “soft” skills,
specifically inter-personal and intra-personal skills, were integrated into a final year mining
engineering course. The instructional approach was designed to promote independent
learning and to develop non-technical skills, essential for students on the threshold of
becoming practising engineers. Three psychometric tests were administered at the beginning
of the course to make students aware of their own and their classmates’ characteristics.
Substantial prescribed reading assignments preceded weekly group discussions. Several
projects during the course required team work skills and application of content knowledge to
real-world contexts. Results obtained from students’ reflection papers, assignments related to
“soft” skills and end of course evaluations suggest that students’ appreciation of the need for
these skills, as well as their own perceived competence, increased during the course. Their
ability to function as independent learners also increased.