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Ekstrom Library

Engineering Education

The Importance of Information Literacy in Engineering Education


Multiple studies focused on the research behaviors of industry engineers have found an increased need for information literacy instruction:

"The fact that every student reported the need to find at least one type of information during their co-op experience is consistent with previous studies on engineers' information behavior and illustrates the importance of this skill set to the practicing engineer ... Given the pronounced role of information seeking in engineers' work, it was surprising that only 17% of the co-op students worked in companies with a library/information center or a librarian. Numbers that low suggest that students are likely to lack library support upon entering the workplace (Jeffryes and Lafferty, 2012)." 

In the corporate world, new engineers are often called upon to perform a variety of research related tasks, e.g., report to their group on newly emerging technologies, or help in patent prior art research. Engineers with solid library research skills will generally produce more thorough reports than those without. The ideal time for the engineer to develop his or her information gathering and management skills is not when entering the corporate world, rather, it is during the engineering education where engineering library resources in staff and collections are virtually always superior to that of the corporate world where library service may be limited or non-existent (Rodrigues, 2001).



Jeffryes, J., & Lafferty, M. (2012). Gauging workplace readiness: Assessing the information needs of engineering co-op students. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, 69(69).

Rodrigues, R. J. (2001). Industry expectations of the new engineer. Science & Technology Libraries, 19(3-4), 179-188.