The T-Shaped Design Engineer - Using Cohorts to Explore How Skills Profiles Differ Through Career Stages

Elies Dekoninck, Liam Bridge

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The T-Shaped designer has previously been identified as a design engineer with the desirable set of skills for a successful career. Twelve design engineers ranging from novice to expert, were interviewed to gain an understanding of their skill set, how it has evolved and how it needs to evolve in order to be futureproofed. With the use of qualitative, quantitative data and the development of a novel engineering skills profiling method, this paper found that 75% of design engineers did not exhibit a T-shaped skill profile, but a skill shape that has been termed 'M-shaped' or 'Comb-shaped'. The majority of participants exhibited a great depth of specialist skills in multiple disciplines, not limited to their immediate field of work. All participants exhibited a wide knowledge of skills that allowed them to work across different disciplines, which included electronics, management or manufacturing, and so the wide vertical bar of the T-Shape design predicted by previous literature has been supported.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3533-3542
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Design Society
Early online date19 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2023
Event24th International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 2023 - Bordeaux, France
Duration: 24 Jul 202328 Jul 2023


  • Design education
  • Teamwork
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Software
  • Modelling and Simulation


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