Communication workshop helps BME students succeed

On May 9, the School of Biomedical Engineering hosted Eric Wilbur, founder and managing partner of MindShare Advantage, to present a workshop titled “Communication Skills: Jumping from Academia to Industry” to graduate students enrolled in the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering as well as 5th-year undergraduate students in the Biomedical Engineering degree program.

In his two-hour presentation, Wilbur discussed how engineers can shift from an audience/trainee mindset to one that focuses on understanding industry needs, including the speaker’s context and customer perspective and needs.

Engineers are often brilliant, detail-oriented people who are experts at research, design, and innovation. And while these skills are crucial in solving engineering problems and creating industry products, they do not automatically lead to effective communication. Since the ability to communicate ideas, research, and solutions is the key ingredient to career development and advancement, SBME hosted the workshop to give students an opportunity to acquire knowledge of ways in which they can develop their communications skills. Students who attended learned and experienced key concepts that they will be able to utilize to transform information into meaningful communication that helps them connect with their audience. Wilbur discussed how they, as speakers, can approach technical communications from their audience’s perspective—using meaningful audience dialogue, building trust, and uncovering hidden opportunities—rather than pushing technical knowledge and details.

With a background that includes over 25 years of industry experience in engineering and knowledge of technical training and instructional design, Wilbur has extensive experience collaborating with teams of technical instructors, design engineers, field sales/applications engineers, and marketing managers. In this workshop, he transferred essential teaching and workshop facilitation skills to our engineering trainees.