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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 June 2023

Elies Dekoninck*
University of Bath
Liam Bridge
University of Bath
Dekoninck, Elies, University of Bath, United Kingdom,


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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.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.
The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press


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