The T-Shaped Educational Profile

The concept of the T-shaped professional refers to individuals with both depth and breadth of knowledge. It reflects a deep expertise in a single area, usually technical, complemented with a broad working knowledge of multiple areas of inquiry, establishing a professional as capable of interacting with various facets of an organization.

The engineering community has embraced the T-shaped concept as an ideal method to prepare practicing engineering graduates for the global economy. This approach fosters individuals with a deep technical understanding coupled with broader knowledge in the fundamentals of engineering design, innovation, business, and leadership. Thus, the stem of the T indicates depth of knowledge in a discipline of science or engineering and the top of the T indicates breadth of knowledge in areas such as business, management, and communication. Such training prepares professionals for success negotiating the corporate, global world of industry.

A Masters education promotes the development of the complete “T” through one of two ways. An individual may have a breadth of knowledge stemming from undergraduate studies in a strong liberal arts community. By focusing on depth of knowledge at the Masters level, that individual will increase his/her specialization expertise. Alternatively, an engineering undergraduate curriculum followed by a broadening of the top of the “T” at the Masters level also accomplishes a complete profile. Either approach offers a broad working knowledge coupled with expertise in specific areas and fosters success in a chosen industry. Career experience strengthens the T-shaped education, adding layers to both expertise and workplace skills, cultivating maturation into effective leadership.