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  1. The value of internship experiences for engineering students is widely discussed in the literature. With this analysis, we seek to contribute knowledge addressing 1) the prevalence of internship experiences amongst engineering students drawn from a large, multi-institutional, nationally-representative sample, 2) if the likelihood of having an engineering internship experiences is equitable amongst various student identities, and 3) what additional factors influence the likelihood of a student having an internship experience, such as field of study and institution type. Data were drawn from a 2015 multi-institutional nationally representative survey of engineering juniors and seniors, excluding one institution with a mandatory co-op program (n = 5530 from 26 institutions). A z-test was used to analyze differences in internship participation rates related to academic cohort (e.g., junior, senior), gender, underrepresented minority (URM) status, first-generation, and low-income status, as well as a subset of identities at the intersection of these groups (gender + URM; first-generation + low-income). A logistic regression model further examined factors such as GPA, engineering task self-efficacy, field of engineering, and institution type. We found that amongst the students in our dataset, 64.7% of the seniors had “worked in a professional engineering environment as an intern/co-op” (41.1% of juniors, 64.7% ofmore »5th years). Significantly less likely (p<0.05) to have internship experiences were men compared to women (52.9% vs 58.3%), URM students compared to their majority counterparts (41.5% vs 56.8%), first-generation students compared to continuing (47.6% vs 57.2%), and low-income students compared to higher-income peers (46.2% vs 57.4%). Examined intersectional identities significantly less likely to have an internship were URM men (37.5%) and first-generation low-income students (42.0%), while non-URM women (60.5%) and continuing high-income students (58.2%) were most likely to report having an internship. Results from the logistic regression model indicate that significant factors are cohort (junior vs senior), GPA, engineering task self-efficacy, and engineering field. When controlling for the other variables in the model, gender, URM, first-generation, and low-income status remain significant; however, the interaction effect between these identities is not significant in the full model. Institution type did not have much impact. Having a research experience was not a significant factor in predicting the likelihood of having an internship experience, although studying abroad significantly increased the odds. Amongst engineering fields, industrial and civil engineering students were the most likely to have an internship, while aerospace and materials engineering students were the least likely. Full results and discussion will be presented in the paper. This analysis provides valuable information for a variety of stakeholders. For engineering programs, it is useful to benchmark historic students’ rates of internship participation against a multi-institutional, nationally representative dataset. For academic advisors and career services professionals, it is useful to understand in which fields an internship is common to be competitive on the job market, and which fields have fewer opportunities or prioritize research experiences. Ultimately, for those in higher education and workforce development it is vital to understand which identities, and intersectional identities, are accessing internship experiences as a pathway into the engineering workforce.« less
  2. This Research-to-Practice Full Paper investigates engineering students’ career goals and intentions regarding organizational settings, and how their goals and intentions relate to their background, learning and contextual measures. Moreover, despite vocational choice and turnover having been heavily studied in the literature, few studies have examined how students’ career goals relate to change in their organizational settings over time and how these perceptions then influence their turnover intentions. To fill in this research gap, this paper explores how organizational setting and respondent aspiration to be in that setting relate to turnover intentions. The paper is based on the nationally-representative, longitudinal Engineering Majors Survey and has a sample size of 350 respondents, characterized as employed and recently graduated (<2y) from an undergraduate engineering program. Respondents are categorized in three different alignment groups (Aligned, Fluid, Unaligned) according to their career goal achievement. Respondents who are currently employed in the type of organization, they had imagined being employed at a year earlier are called Aligned. Respondents who are actually employed in the type of organization (e.g., small versus large firm) to which they stated “Might or might not” be employed a year earlier are classified as Fluid. Finally, respondents, who work in the organizationalmore »setting, which they did not want to work in one year prior, are called Unaligned. The paper also determines respondents turnover intentions (Stay, Flexible, Go) related to organizational settings, such as small companies or medium and large companies. Alignment and turnover groups were then compared with each other in relation to background, learning, and contextual measures. Background measures are gender, underrepresented minority status, and first generation to college status. Learning measures are internship experience, and contextual measures are job satisfaction and grade point average. The findings suggest that most of these recent graduates are Aligned and want to Stay in their organizational setting. Employees in small companies are relatively less Aligned and are more likely to Go and leave the organizational setting than are employees in large companies. Respondents who have done an internship are more often Aligned and less likely want to Go and leave their organizational setting than those who have not done an internship. These results suggest that many respondents decide before graduation on an organizational setting and continue to desire the same organizational setting after being employed for some time. Future longitudinal research should compare organizational settings-based turnover intentions with turnover intentions related to specific companies, -as a complement to much of the in literature on turnover intentions mostly refers to leaving specific organizations. Keywords: career decisions, labor turnover intentions, organizational setting, engineering graduates, alignment« less
  3. Does engagement in high impact practices such as technical internships and undergraduate research influence engineering students’ career decisions and future plans? And how is learning that comes from these high impact practices related to “school learning”? These high impact educational practices have been shown to increase the rates of student engagement and retention in higher education. While access to and participation in these activities is often unsystematic across various institutions, these practices have been shown to benefit college students with diverse backgrounds and learner qualities. This paper establishes a context for understanding the characteristics and attitudes of students who participate in internships and undergraduate research by drawing from analyses of the first administration of the Engineering Majors Survey (EMS), a longitudinal study designed to examine engineering students’ career objectives related to creativity and innovation, and the experiences and attitudes that might influence those goals. In addition, using interview data from product development interns at a single engineering firm, we add insights into the specific skills that interns identify as learning in their internship and suggest connections between school-and-work learning. The more general picture of the impact of internship and research experiences (from the EMS), complemented with a “deep dive” intomore »the learning that happens in internship experiences (from the interviews) provides a solid starting point for future exploration of how high impact practices such as internships and research experiences might be better integrated into a student’s educational development.« less
  4. Beyond engineering skills, today’s graduates are expected to have a number of professional skills by the time they enter the working world. Increasingly, innovation is one of the arenas where professional engineers should be adept at operating. However, in order to educate our students for contributing to innovation activities in their organizations, we need a better understanding of the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are relevant for early-career engineers in their development efforts. As a starting point to add to this understanding, we start by asking: what does meaningful engineering work look like in the eyes of early career engineers? We then go on to consider engineering work that is not only meaningful but also innovative, asking: What does innovative work look like in the eyes of early career engineers? Finally, we consider: How do innovative work and engineering work more generally compare? Based on qualitative in-depth semi-structured interviews, this paper analyzes the work experiences of 13 young engineers in their first years of work after graduating from universities in the United States. Interviewee-reported critical incidents of top and bottom moments, as well as experiences in creating, advancing and implementing new ideas in work, were coded into different dimensions ofmore »learning experiences according to Mezirow’s [1] transformative learning theory in order to understand better what these experiences comprise. Many positively experienced innovation efforts were related to implementing new features or components to products or process improvements, and collaboration and feedback played an important role in these efforts. Negatively experienced innovation efforts, in contrast, were related to a lack in implementation, solutions and resources. Top and bottom moments were strongly tied to the social dimension of work: top moments were typically related to camaraderie with peers or recognition coming from managers, and bottom experiences with an absence of social connections in addition to falling short of one’s own expectations. The results suggest that managers should be cognizant of the importance of social connections and feedback cycles with their young engineers who are looking for guidance and validation of their efforts. For educators, the results highlight the importance of equipping our graduates with skills suited to navigate this active, social landscape of engineering practice. There are more challenges to tackle in today’s educational settings to prepare students for the collaboration, people-coordination, presentation, and community-building skills they will need in their professional lives.« less
  5. This Research-to-Practice Full Paper investigates engineering students’ career goals and intentions regarding organizational settings, and how their goals and intentions relate to their background, learning and contextual measures. Moreover, despite vocational choice and turnover having been heavily studied in the literature, few studies have examined how students’ career goals relate to change in their organizational settings over time and how these perceptions then influence their turnover intentions. To fill in this research gap, this paper explores how organizational setting and respondent aspiration to be in that setting relate to turnover intentions. The paper is based on the nationally-representative, longitudinal Engineering Majors Survey and has a sample size of 350 respondents, characterized as employed and recently graduated (<2y) from an undergraduate engineering program. Respondents are categorized in three different alignment groups (Aligned, Fluid, Unaligned) according to their career goal achievement. Respondents who are currently employed in the type of organization, they had imagined being employed at a year earlier are called Aligned. Respondents who are actually employed in the type of organization (e.g., small versus large firm) to which they stated “Might or might not” be employed a year earlier are classified as Fluid. Finally, respondents, who work in the organizationalmore »setting, which they did not want to work in one year prior, are called Unaligned. The paper also determines respondents turnover intentions (Stay, Flexible, Go) related to organizational settings, such as small companies or medium and large companies. Alignment and turnover groups were then compared with each other in relation to background, learning, and contextual measures. Background measures are gender, underrepresented minority status, and first generation to college status. Learning measures are internship experience, and contextual measures are job satisfaction and grade point average. The findings suggest that most of these recent graduates are Aligned and want to Stay in their organizational setting. Employees in small companies are relatively less Aligned and are more likely to Go and leave the organizational setting than are employees in large companies. Respondents who have done an internship are more often Aligned and less likely want to Go and leave their organizational setting than those who have not done an internship. These results suggest that many respondents decide before graduation on an organizational setting and continue to desire the same organizational setting after being employed for some time. Future longitudinal research should compare organizational settings-based turnover intentions with turnover intentions related to specific companies, -as a complement to much of the in literature on turnover intentions mostly refers to leaving specific organizations. Keywords: career decisions, labor turnover intentions, organizational setting, engineering graduates, alignment« less
  6. Does engagement in high impact practices such as technical internships and undergraduate research influence engineering students’ career decisions and future plans? And how is learning that comes from these high impact practices related to “school learning”? These high impact educational practices have been shown to increase the rates of student engagement and retention in higher education. While access to and participation in these activities is often unsystematic across various institutions, these practices have been shown to benefit college students with diverse backgrounds and learner qualities. This paper establishes a context for understanding the characteristics and attitudes of students who participate in internships and undergraduate research by drawing from analyses of the first administration of the Engineering Majors Survey (EMS), a longitudinal study designed to examine engineering students’ career objectives related to creativity and innovation, and the experiences and attitudes that might influence those goals. In addition, using interview data from product development interns at a single engineering firm, we add insights into the specific skills that interns identify as learning in their internship and suggest connections between school-and-work learning. The more general picture of the impact of internship and research experiences (from the EMS), complemented with a “deep dive” intomore »the learning that happens in internship experiences (from the interviews) provides a solid starting point for future exploration of how high impact practices such as internships and research experiences might be better integrated into a student’s educational development.« less
  7. There are over 100,000 engineering graduates from undergraduate programs annually within the United States. Students graduating from these programs pursue a variety of jobs, with only a subset being engineering positions. Why might an engineering student, after investing considerable resources in their engineering education, select a nonengineering job? What are the specific factors at work for engineering graduates in selecting their first professional position? This study seeks to identify recently graduated engineering students’ motivations in job applications and job selection, particularly as these motives vary by academic and demographic backgrounds. The data for this study come from survey responses of 315 currently employed individuals who were within one year post-graduation from their undergraduate engineering program at one of 27 different institutions across the United States. A mixed methods approach was used to understand the factors influencing their career decisions based on their open- and closed- ended responses to related survey questions. First, using emergent coding, respondents’ self-reported, open-ended descriptions of their job search process that led them to accept the offer for their current employed position were categorized. Then, their open-ended responses were compared to a close-ended, ranking question of the same type, with items that were derived from amore »question in the National Survey of Recent College Graduates (sponsored by NSF’s Division of Science Resources Studies). Finally, respondents’ background characteristics (e.g., socioeconomic status) and undergraduate experiences (e.g., participation in an internship) were analyzed in relation to their job search and job selection processes. Our findings reinforce that job selection is a complex process that often can be a source of anxiety and stress to students. The motivating factors for deciding which jobs to apply to, and which job to ultimately accept, vary for different students. By improving our understanding of student motivations during the job search process, employers can make adjustments to their offers in order to strengthen and diversify the engineering workforce. By knowing what motivates students, advisors can design services to support students in a successful transition from school-to-work. These findings also may be of use to students themselves, helping them see the variety of ways that engineering students pursue and consider job options.« less
  8. Surveys often are used in educational research to gather information about respondents without considering the effect of survey questions on survey-takers themselves. Does the very act of taking a survey influence perspectives, mindsets, and even behaviors? Does a survey itself effectuate attitudinal change? Such effects of surveys, and implications for survey data interpretation, warrant close attention. There is a long tradition of research on surveys as behavioral interventions within political science and social psychology, but limited attention has been given to the topic in engineering education, and higher education more broadly. Recently the engineering education community has started to examine the potential effects of assessment techniques (including surveys) as catalysts for reflection. In March 2014, the Consortium to Promote Reflection in Engineering Education (CPREE), representing a two-year collaboration amongst 12 campuses, was established to promote “a broader understanding and use of reflective techniques in engineering education.”1 CPREE’s formation suggests a growing recognition of reflection as an important and underemphasized aspect of an engineer’s education. CPREE defines reflection as “exploring the meaning of experiences and the consequences of the meanings for future action” and emphasizes the importance of taking action as a result of ascribing meaning to experiences.1 Surveys may bemore »one of several tools that may create opportunities for reflection; others include “exam wrappers” and “homework wrappers” that encourage students to explore how they feel about an assignment or task as part of making meaning of it2,3 (and stimulating the kind of reflection that can lead to action). The current study bridges these two frameworks of behavioral interventions and reflection to consider the “extra-ordinate” dimensions of survey-taking and explores how survey participation may (1) support students’ reflection on past experiences, meaningmaking of these experiences, and insights that “inform [their] path going forward,”1 and (2) be associated with students’ subsequent behaviors. We first review a broader literature on the interventional effects on surveys in political studies and social psychology, after which we present the results obtained from including an optional reflection question at the end of an engineering education survey. We conclude that educators would benefit from considering the range of potential impacts that responding to questions may have on students’ thoughts and actions, rather than treating surveys as neutral data collection devices when designing their research.« less