Engineering has a long history of developing solutions to meet societal needs, and humanity currently faces many and varied societal challenges. Who are the engineering students motivated to address such challenges? This study explores a sample of 5,819 undergraduate engineering students from a survey administered in 2015 to a nationally representative set of twenty-seven U.S. engineering schools. The survey was developed to study the background, learning experiences, academic activities and proximal influences that motivate an engineering undergraduate student to pursue innovative work post-graduation. As part of this survey students indicated their interest in pursuing work that addresses societal challenges. A step-wise regression analysis is used to predict interest in societal impact and by contrast interest in financial potential with respect to 71 demographic, background and academic experience variables. The results confirm previous studies – a large majority of engineering undergraduates are interested in impact-driven work with an over-representation of female and under-represented minority students. This study sheds new light on the background and academic experiences that predict interest in impact-driven as compared to financially-driven engineering work. It is found that experiences promoting a service ethic and broadening oneself outside of engineering are important predictors of interest in impact-driven work. Whatmore »
Career Certainty: Differences Between Career Certain and Uncertain Engineering Students.
To gain a deeper understanding of the career decisions of undergraduate engineering students, this research paper explores the differences between students who show a high degree of career certainty and those who are rather uncertain about what their professional future should look like. These analyses were based on a dataset from a nationwide survey of engineering undergraduates (n=5,819) from 27 institutions in the United States. The survey was designed with an interest in understanding engineering students’ career pathways. For the purpose of this study, students were designated as either “career uncertain” or “career certain” according to their survey answers. Those two groups were then compared against a variety of background characteristics, past experiences and personality variables. The results suggest that career uncertain and career certain students do not differ on background variables such as gender, age or family income. However, when it comes to students’ past experiences, the percentage of students who had already gained internship experiences during their time in college was significantly higher among career certain students as compared to career uncertain students. As expected, seniors were more certain about their professional future than juniors. Similarly, a higher percentage of career certain students reported talking about their professional future with other students or faculty members more frequently. Furthermore, career certain students were significantly more more »
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- Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, June 25-28. Columbus, OH.
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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