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  1. This NSF funded research study is developing a greater theoretical understanding of the professional identity, institutional culture, and formation of engineer technicians and technologists who are prepared at two-year colleges. The study is identifying dimensions of career anchors orientations at various stages of professional preparation and map to engineering technology (ET) career pathways by surveying ET students, transfer students, and early career ET professionals. The complexity of integration of the multiple stages of professional preparation, within diverse environments, has led the researchers to integrate three interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks to examine fundamental questions of professional formation: (1) social cognitive career theorymore »to situate individual attitudes, interests, and experiences within a larger career context; (2) Schein’s Career Anchors Theory focused on individual career orientations; and (3) the Hughes Value Creation Model for Organizational Competitive Advantage focused on cultural and organizational contexts. Initial results from the Schein’s Career Anchor survey for the two-year college ET students are presented. Findings from this and future work will transform the ET workforce through catalyzing interaction of researchers and practitioners with public support to bolster ET’s strategic position in the workforce development infrastructure.« less
  2. Virtual reality offers vast possibilities to enhance the conventional approach for delivering engineering education. The introduction of virtual reality technology into teaching can improve the undergraduate mechanical engineering curriculum by supplementing the traditional learning experience with outside-the-classroom materials. The Center for Aviation and Automotive Technological Education using Virtual E-Schools (CA2VES), in collaboration with the Clemson University Center for Workforce Development (CUCWD), has developed a comprehensive virtual reality-based learning system. The available e-learning materials include eBooks, mini-video lectures, three-dimensional virtual reality technologies, and online assessments. Select VR-based materials were introduced to students in a sophomore level mechanical engineering laboratory course viamore »fourteen online course modules during a four-semester period. To evaluate the material, a comparison of student performance with and without the material, along with instructor feedback, was completed. Feedback from the instructor and the teaching assistant revealed that the material was effective in improving the laboratory safety and boosted student’s confidence in handling engineering tools.« less