Carl Selinger’s “Stuff You Don’t Learn in Engineering School” seminars, articles and book help engineers—indeed all professionals—learn the non-technical soft skills that are important to be more effective and happier in the real world.  These skills include making decisions, setting priorities, running meetings, speaking,  writing and listening better, leading teams, dealing with stress and having fun, and understanding themselves and others.  Lisa Belkin has talked about Carl and “Stuff” in her Life’s Work column in the New York Times.


Carl’s book Stuff you Don’t Learn in Engineering School: Skills for Success in the Real World has been published by Wiley-IEEE Press.  Click here to see reviews of the book by periodicals and readers.  Read the first pages of the book.


Articles on these themes are now appearing regularly in IEEE Spectrum magazine where Carl is a Contributing Editor.


The “Stuff” book and articles address the following concerns about the real world expressed by young engineers attending Carl’s seminars during the two decades …


·        Do you feel your engineering education fully prepared you for the real world?


·        Are you able to cope with non-technical issues like dealing with clients and the public? 


·        Do you know how you’ll react to more responsibilities in the future? “How to manage time.  Time to work.  Time to relax.”


·        Can you deal with difficult people? “What concerns me the most is how to deal with professional people and have to prove to myself that I’m really on the right path doing the right thing in the right place.”


·        Do you need to develop better writing, speaking and listening skills that will help you advance in your career?


·        Do you know how to cope with poor management and leadership skills of higher-ups? “That the ‘real world’ is accurately modeled by Dilbert.  Trying to have ideas and offer them when you have the least experience in the group.”; and


·        Are you afraid that things will change faster than you can learn them, thereby making you less competitive in your field?


Drawing from these and other concerns, Carl Selinger’sStuff You Don’t Learn in Engineering School” provides straightforward, practical skills to acquaint young engineers – indeed, all professionals -- with important non-technical issues, discussing them in plain English and offering many effective actions.  Skills learned are applied directly and immediately – not on generalized, generic situations – but on real projects they bring from their desks, important decisions they are confronting, and upcoming meetings they’ll be attending/running. 


“Stuff” is a one-day, 6-hour seminar, though it can be given in shorter versions with fewer skill areas being covered.  “Stuff” seminars have been conducted on-site for Bovis Lend Lease, Turner Construction Company, AECOM, The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and ABB Lummus.  Programs have been sponsored by numerous chapters of: ASCE, ASHRAE, AIChE, ASME, IEEE, ITE, SWE, Tau Beta Pi and WTS; at many colleges including (alphabetically) Binghamton, Bucknell, Cal-Long Beach, Cal-San Diego, Central Michigan, City College of NY, Columbia, Cooper Union, Cornell, Dartmouth, Dayton, Georgia Tech, Kansas, UMass Dartmouth, NYU Poly, Rice, Rose-Hulman, Saskatchewan, USouthern Cal, Stevens, UTexas Austin, Union College, and Webb Institute.  


Who will benefit most from “Stuff” seminars, articles and the book …

·        Engineers in the early part of their careers, from entry-level through “emerging project managers”;


·        Seniors and graduate students in engineering schools;


·        Engineers and other professionals who want to assume a greater management role; and


·        Managers of engineers to get refreshed on soft skills and be better able to coach their direct reports.


What are the “take aways” from “Stuff” …


·        Practical, useful, down-to-earth tips and techniques you can really use as soon as you get back to work or school -- and in your personal life … “The most helpful part of the session were the personal examples and anecdotes that demonstrate that the techniques we discussed really applied.”


·        Solid understanding of many important “soft skills” like: making decisions; running meetings; being effective as well as efficient (and knowing the difference!); setting priorities; effective teamwork; not fearing negotiating; dealing with stress; finding out why you often don’t understand other people (and why they often don’t understand you!); improving your writing, speaking and listening skills; and, yes, being more creative … “Session outlined soft skills needed on the job AND how to improve them.  I now have a better idea of what I can do to improve these skills.”; and


·        Increasing your confidence and comfort that you can better deal with – and excel -- in the real world … while being happier and less stressed!“Communications, decision-making sections were not only full of useful information, but very thought provoking.” ; and


·        Opportunity for continuing e-mail consultations with Carl.


Carl Selinger is an independent consultant in aviation & transportation, following a 31-year career with The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  Stuff is drawn from his varied business career, three engineering degrees, and over 30 years teaching engineering students at The Cooper Union and other colleges.  Carl has presented this unique material to over one thousand young engineers in the last decade with consistently positive reactions. 


What they say about “Stuff” and other seminars … (from attendees’ evaluations)

·        “Truly entertaining, informative and very pragmatic.  It was something I could sink my teeth into and really use.”


·        “They definitely don’t teach this in school.  The speaker basically hits the tip of the iceberg but is was something I would not have heard elsewhere.”


·        “Outstanding.  Very accurate account of what it is like in the real world.  Thank you for taking time to talk to Tau Beta Pi members about this important subject.”


·        “Key points discussed were very similar to my major concerns.  There were many points raised, or topics discussed, that were surprising and I am glad that I am aware of them.”


·        “It made me realize that it is not good enough to be technically competent.  One needs other skills to succeed.”


·        “An excellent attempt at showing that success in real-time requires more than technical know-how.”


·        “Wish I had this presentation when I was a student!  When I was a young professional I struggled with the differences between urgent and important, and responsibility and accountability.”


·        “Good talk for the students.  Professionals learn this as they go, however, if they learned this stuff as students the “growing pains” of professional life would be a little smoother.”


·        “How would I have gotten this information if not through this AIChE meeting?  This should be required course material in a student’s final year!  Thank you!”


·        “The way you conducted the lecture in a semi-formal and hilarious manner is very good!”


·        “Great presentation.  J  I learned a lot about what’s really important.”


·        “Discussed things which are important parts of engineering careers but are not taught at school or at work, even though an employer has much to gain from it.”


·        “I thought the talk was helpful and truly an eye-opener.  Most of us do not realize how important these things are.  Thanks again.”


·        “Carl is a great speaker and very personable.  Made a full- day course enjoyable and interesting.”


·        “You’re very good.  I can’t remember the last time I sat through a 2-1/2 hour presentation and didn’t get bored.”


·        “Selinger was very open, human and down to earth about who human beings are.  It has opened up my horizon on what life, in general, is about.  Thank you very much!”


·        “I was not sure what to expect coming where, but I was pleasantly surprised.  I really enjoyed this seminar.”


·        “Great job!! J


So what are you waiting for?  Wouldn’t you want to come back from this seminar saying these things?  Don’t you want the young people who work for you to be more effective engineers and happier people?  Contact us below to arrange for Carl Selinger’s “Stuff you don’t learn in engineering school” on-site at your organization, through your professional society and/or at your engineering school.


For more information about Carl’s seminars:


·        Lisa Belkin has discussed “Stuff” in her Life’s Work column in the New York Times.


·        Tabulation of attendee evaluations at a recent seminar (contact Carl if you want further evaluations).


·        Where “Stuff” has been given.  (Contact Carl to find out about upcoming seminars.)


·        Carl’s suggested “Reading List” for young engineers.


For more information on arranging a seminar in your area, please contact Carl at


July 2011


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