Soft Skills in the Workplace

Over the next six years, millennials will outnumber generation X 3:1. In her book Millennial Reset: Reimagining a Workplace that Works for Everyone. Dr. Mary Pilotte of Purdue University teaches us how to find common ground among the generational differences in the workplace.

engineering education

I met Mary at the last ASEE conference and wanted to hear more about Purdue’s strategy to address multidisciplinary – and multi-generational engineering in future graduates. Here at Siemens we have four generations working together so we definitely need future engineers who can communicate well across generations.


Oftentimes, engineering classes focus solely on the hard skills of manufacturing. 

But what about the soft skills? 

More and more often, employers and professors are finding that students need to sharpen their soft skills to be successful in the workplace, such as having tough conversations, learning to be collaborative, and how to redirect behaviors that are not productive on collaborative teams. 

In this episode, Dr. Mary Pilotte of Purdue University explains this need for soft skills and shares some of Purdue’s strategy to stop the soft skills shortage in the workplace. It all comes down to multidisciplinary engineering, such as theater engineering. What makes theater engineering different is that it incorporates statistics, dynamics, and other hands-on practical design experiences—including creating engineering structures or systems to support live performing arts and entertainment. 

So, tune in to hear how some of the best and brightest in academia are finding new ways to teach students the soft skills they need to create a more productive and positive environment in the workplace. 

Some Questions I Ask: 

  • What inspired you to get into this field of engineering and academia? (0:42)
  • Can you give us a feel for the state of engineering education at Purdue? (7:35)
  • What compelled you to research millennials and the multi-generation workforce? (21:09)
  • How do you address generational differences in an effective and productive way? (29:24)

In This Episode, You Will Learn: 

  • What a day in the life of a Director of Engineering Education looks like. (3:11)
  • What makes Theater Engineering different from other types of design and engineering. (6:12)
  • How Purdue is better preparing future graduates in key skill areas in manufacturing. (10:21)
  • What best practices could help manufacturers get more engaged with schools like Purdue. (36:42)

Connect with Dr. Mary Pilotte: 



Millennial Reset by Dr. Mary Pilotte

Subscribe to the full Innovation in the Classroom series to hear more.

Innovation in the Classroom

Innovation in the Classroom

Innovation in the Classroom by Siemens explores best practices to empower the next generation of digital talent. In this podcast series, Dora Smith takes you through discussions with leading voices from the world of engineering education who are preparing future engineers in Academia 4.0 to shape the world of innovation.

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