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  1. Abstract Background

    Graduate education literature tends to focus on faculty careers with little attention to industry careers. However, more than one‐third of U.S. engineering doctorates enter industry.


    Our purpose is to understand engineering graduate students' interest in industry, academia, and government careers as it relates to their graduate engineering identities.


    A total of 249 engineering thesis master's and doctoral students completed a survey about their graduate engineering identities and career preferences. We created regression models to predict students' likelihood of pursuing careers in industry, academia, and government. Then, we used cluster analysis to understand the extent to which students are considering multiple options and used chi‐squared and ANOVA tests to compare the clusters.


    In the regression model predicting an academic career, research recognition and research performance/competence were positive predictors and engineering performance/competence was a negative predictor. Regression models of industry and government described less than 10% of the variance. Four clusters emerged, which collectively demonstrate that engineering graduate students are considering careers in multiple sectors. Students with internships during graduate study were more likely to pursue industry careers. Master's students were underrepresented in the cluster with highest likelihood of an academic career. International students were keeping more options open than some domestic students. There were also differences by engineering discipline.


    Engineering graduate students are considering multiple career sectors. Advisors and education researchers should focus not only on academic career preparation but also on industry and government career preparation, particularly on preparing for multiple options simultaneously.

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  2. null (Ed.)
    Abstract Background Students’ attitudinal beliefs related to how they see themselves in STEM have been a focal point of recent research, given their well-documented links to retention and persistence. These beliefs are most often assessed cross-sectionally, and as such, we lack a thorough understanding of how they may fluctuate over time. Using matched survey responses from undergraduate engineering students ( n = 278), we evaluate if, and to what extent, students’ engineering attitudinal beliefs (attainment value, utility value, self-efficacy, interest, and identity) change over a 1-year period. Further, we examine whether there are differences based on gender and student division, and then compare results between cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses to illustrate weaknesses in our current understanding of these constructs. Results Our study revealed inconsistencies between cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses of the same dataset. Cross-sectional analyses indicated a significant difference by student division for engineering utility value and engineering interest, but no significant differences by gender for any variable. However, longitudinal analyses revealed statistically significant decreases in engineering utility value, engineering self-efficacy, and engineering interest for lower division students and significant decreases in engineering attainment value for upper division students over a one-year period. Further, longitudinal analyses revealed a gender gap in engineering self-efficacy for upper division students, where men reported higher means than women. Conclusions Our analyses make several contributions. First, we explore attitudinal differences by student division not previously documented. Second, by comparing across methodologies, we illustrate that different conclusions can be drawn from the same data. Since the literature around these variables is largely cross-sectional, our understanding of students’ engineering attitudes is limited. Our longitudinal analyses show variation in engineering attitudinal beliefs that are obscured when data is only examined cross-sectionally. These analyses revealed an overall downward trend within students for all beliefs that changed significantly—losses which may foreshadow attrition out of engineering. These findings provide an opportunity to introduce targeted interventions to build engineering utility value, engineering self-efficacy, and engineering interest for student groups whose means were lower than average. 
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  4. null (Ed.)
    This study investigates career intentions and students’ engineering attitudes in BME, with a focus on gender differences. Data from n = 716 undergraduate biomedical engineering students at a large public research institution in the United States were analyzed using hierarchical agglomerative cluster analysis. Results revealed five clusters of intended post-graduation plans: Engineering Job and Graduate School, Any Job, Non-Engineering Job and Graduate School, Any Option, and Any Graduate School. Women were evenly distributed across clusters; there was no evidence of gendered career preferences. The main findings in regard to engineering attitudes reveal significant differences by cluster in interest, attainment value, utility value, and professional identity, but not in academic self-efficacy. Yet, within clusters the only gender differences were women’s lower engineering academic self-efficacy, interest and professional identity compared to men. Implications and areas of future research are discussed. 
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  5. Engineering identity is an attractive lens being used by engineering education researchers to help understand the factors contributing to student retention and persistence in engineering. However, few studies have linked pedagogical approaches for developing an identity to their impact on engineering identity development. This research paper investigates the difference in students’ engineering identity, engineering performance/competence, engineering interest, recognition in engineering, and affect towards six professional engineering practices in two difference engineering departments: a traditional program that implicitly supports engineering identity formation and a non-traditional program that explicitly supports engineering identity formation. Survey data was collected from a total of 184 students (153 from the traditional department and 31 from the non-traditional department). Using independent samples t-tests, results show that engineering identity was higher for students in the traditional department than for students in the non-traditional department. However, students in the non-traditional department showed statistically significantly higher levels of collaboration compared to the traditional department. This work contributes to the ongoing conversation about engineering identity development by beginning to explore the pedagogical approaches that impact students’ engineering attitudes. Implications of results are discussed. 
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  6. Makerspaces are becoming increasingly common facilities in engineering departments and universities across the country. Facility stakeholders, including students, professors, and university administration, hold many assumptions about the benefits and importance of the spaces, but little research has been done to quantify student usage and to evaluate participation within these spaces. This is especially important to understand given the interdisciplinary and multipurpose nature of these facilities. In this paper, we seek to understand which undergraduate engineering students use the Makerspace and what factors influence their likelihood to return. In partnership with a Makerspace at a large, public institution in the Southwest, we analyzed nearly 29,500 sign-in entries from 4,230 unique participants. Log-in information from these students included an open-ended response to their reason for visiting the facility, which was coded into five categories. We provide descriptives by major of the students, who visited the Makerspace within a two-year period, as well as results of chi-square analyses to determine differences in use of the Makerspace and results of logistic regression to determine the probability of students’ return. Analysis of this data begins to uncover the ways in which undergraduate students engage with Makerspaces and illuminates differences in behavior between majors. Further research should investigate the reasons behind these patterns and possible barriers to entry. 
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  7. Contribution: This study explores the factors contributing to the development of engineering identity in Latinx students at two institutions. A better understanding of these factors will support the development of more inclusive engineering education environments and experiences. Background: Persistence of Latinx engineering students is of particular interest due to their underrepresentation in the field. Identity is a lens for understanding student persistence, but Latinx students are underrepresented in prior engineering identity studies. This study seeks to identify the unique factors, academic and professional, that contribute to engineering identity development, and potential means for supporting the persistence of Latinx engineers. Research Questions: (1) What academic and professional affect factors predict engineering identity development of Latinx students? and (2) What role does the institution play in Latinx students’ engineering identity development? Methodology: A mixed-methods approach was used to measure engineering identity based on a framework incorporating both academic and professional affect elements. Regression analyses were conducted on 892 responses to an online survey from Latinx engineering students, with additional insight from interviews with ten Latinx engineering students. Findings: Six of the nine factors analyzed (performance/competence, interest, recognition, analysis, framing and solving problems, and tinkering) were significant predictors of Latinx students' engineering identity, as were institution, gender, and having a parent with an engineering degree. Engineering identity was higher for Latinx students at the Hispanic Serving Institution, but none of the interaction terms were significant, so the relationship between these factors and engineering identity is similar at each institution. 
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  8. Contribution: This study shows that identification with engineering for engineering graduate students is positively and significantly predicted by engineering interest, competence, recognition, and interpersonal skills competence. Background: Prior studies of engineering identity on undergraduates identified several factors (e.g., engineering interest, engineering recognition) as positive predictors of identification of engineering. Engineering competence, achieved by participating in design projects, is a crucial part of students’ efforts to become more innovative engineers. Identity theory is used to understand undergraduates’ persistence in engineering, as students with stronger engineering identification are more likely to persist. More work is needed focusing on graduate students. Research Questions: Do engineering identity measurement frameworks studied for undergraduate students also apply to graduate students? Do they correlate with intention to complete the degree? What predicts the engineering identity of engineering Master's and doctoral students? Methodology: Interviews informed development and adaptation of a multi-scale survey instrument. Factor analyses identified four factors that relate to graduate engineering identity: engineering interest, engineering recognition, engineering competence, and interpersonal skills competence. Three sequential multiple linear regression models were used to predict engineering graduate students’ engineering identity. Findings: The final regression model, which includes student characteristics and the four factors resulting from Confirmatory Factor Analysis, predicts 60% of the variance in engineering identity—substantially more than similar undergraduate engineering identity models. All four factors were significant and positive predictors of graduate students’ engineering identity. The engineering recognition factor in particular needed adaptation to emphasize peers and faculty members over family, although family remained important. 
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