Since the late 1990s engineering institutions internationally have adopted a graduate attribute focus for course accreditation. The research presented here is unique in using a role-based analysis of the relative significance of an extensive range of mechanical engineering attributes in Australian industries found to employ the greatest number of mechanical engineers. The significance of each attribute in each industry''s core mechanical engineering roles are weighted according to the numbers of mechanical engineers employed in those roles. This is considered in the context of a study of the profession''s formative development under the extensive influence of 19th and 20th century UK and US practices, the recent momentous changes in engineering employment and formation, and an extensive comparative analysis of the US, UK and Australian professional mechanical engineering environments. A wide range of appropriate teaching strategies to develop the most significant attributes through proximal and distance learning are explored, together with a brief account of the author''s work in developing and assessing the use of technology to enhance flexible learning.