Asee peer logo

A Doctorate That Works: Nontraditional Populations Served on Both Sides of the Atlantic

Download Paper |


2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Online and Professional Graduate Programs

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Michael J. Dyrenfurth Purdue University, West Lafayette

visit author page

Michael J. Dyrenfurth is a Professor Emeritus and formerly Graduate Programs Coordinator in the Department of of Technology Leadership and Innovation in Purdue University's Polytechnic Institute. He is a member of the ASEE and he has served on both the ENT and the ETD Board of directors and as program chair for the ASEE ENT (2014) and the CIEC in New Orleans (2008). Previously he completed a four year term as Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies in Purdue University’s College of Technology.

He was co-PI of two international EU-FIPSE funded grants. His scholarship agenda focuses on technological innovation, technological literacy, workforce development, and international dimensions of these fields. Increasingly, he has turned his attention to the field of technological innovation and the assessment of technological capability, understanding and innovation.

Internationally he has worked in Germany, South Africa, Poland, the USSR, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Czech and Slovak Republics, Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Taiwan His early experience involved teaching in Alberta and at universities in North Dakota and New Jersey.

Immediately before coming to Purdue, he served as graduate coordinator for the Industrial Education and Technology Department at Iowa State University. Previously, for twenty years, he was on the faculty of the University of Missouri’s Department of Practical Arts and Vocational Technical Education in various professorial, coordinator and leadership roles. He maintains a consulting practice in the area of third party evaluation, technology futuring and leadership and curriculum development.

He received his Ph.D. from Bowling Green State University and his Masters and Bachelor’s degrees at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

visit author page


Mitchell L. Springer Purdue University, West Lafayette

visit author page

Dr. Mitchell L. Springer

Dr. Springer currently serves as an Executive Director for Purdue University’s Polytechnic Institute located in West Lafayette, Indiana. He has over thirty-five years of theoretical and defense industry-based practical experience from four disciplines: software engineering, systems engineering, program management and human resources. Dr. Springer possesses a significant strength in pattern recognition, analyzing and improving organizational systems. He is internationally recognized and has contributed to scholarship more than 300 books, articles, presentations, editorials and reviews on software development methodologies, management, organizational change, and program management. Dr. Springer sits on many university and community boards and advisory committees. He is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including local, regional and national recognitions for leadership in diversity, equity and inclusion.

Dr. Springer is the President of the Indiana Council for Continuing Education as well as the Past-Chair of the Continuing Professional Development Division of the American Society for Engineering Education.

Dr. Springer received his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Purdue University, his MBA and Doctorate in Adult and Community Education with a Cognate in Executive Development from Ball State University. He is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP), Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR & SHRM-SCP), in Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR), and, in civil and domestic mediation. Dr. Springer is a State of Indiana Registered domestic mediator.

visit author page


Kathryne Newton Purdue University, West Lafayette

visit author page

Dr. Kathy Newton is an Associate Dean of Graduate Programs and Faculty Success for the Purdue Polytechnic Institute at Purdue University. She is a Professor of Supply Chain Management Technology in the School of Engineering Technology. Her teaching and
scholarly interests are in the areas of supply chain management, quality control, and graduate education. She
served as Department Head of Industrial Technology from 2007 to 2010. Prior to her appointment at Purdue University
in 1993, she spent seven years teaching for Texas A&M University’s Department of Engineering
Technology. Dr. Newton has a Ph.D. in Educational Human Resource Development, a Master’s degree in Business Administration,
and a B.S. in Industrial Distribution, each from Texas A&M University.

visit author page


Carmen Torres-Sánchez Loughborough University

visit author page

Dr Torres-Sánchez is an Associate Professor at the University of Loughborough, England, United Kingdom, and the Executive Director of the Centre of Doctoral Training in Embedded Intelligence (CDT-EI). She is the architect of the novel Doctoral Transition Zone™ Training ethos. She has been working in industry-informed, academically-led education for more than 10 years. Her research interests are on the design and manufacture of multifunctional materials with tailored properties to meet specific requirements. These have driven the development of technology to adjust cellular structure of foams via controlled ultrasonic irradiation. She has attracted £6.1M+ government support and private funding to investigate materials and structures for a broad range of applications and works at the interface with manufacturing and embedded intelligence systems.

visit author page


Timothy J. Jacobs Texas A&M University

visit author page

Professor in Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University. Director of Interdisciplinary Engineering for Undergraduate and Graduate Programs.

visit author page


Charles M. Wolf Texas A&M University

visit author page

Dr. Charles "Chuck" Wolf is a Professor of Practice in the Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Texas A&M University and Director of Texas A&M's Doctor of Engineering program. He has spent the majority of his career in progressive industry leadership positions from project engineering and management to client development and organizational leadership. He has led teams in the delivery of over $500 million in water infrastructure projects and consulted municipalities and public sector utilities in the development of major capital programs and optimal use of alternative delivery methods to maximize their return on invested capital.

visit author page

Download Paper |


A doctorate that works: Non-traditional populations served on both sides of the Atlantic

The innovation imperative faced by western business and industry, as well as by both non-governmental and governmental organizations is well recognized. Business and governmental leaders, economists and educators have all spoken about this urgency. To that end, the institutions represented by the authors have independently evolved doctoral programs on both sides of the Atlantic, to prepare research-informed and technologically-capable leaders for business, industry, and public service.

Our nations employ an entire continuum of technologically capable people tasked to generate value in their economies. This continuum consists of growing numbers of people ranging from semi-skilled operatives to exceptionally capable engineers, scientists and leaders at the doctoral level. The focus of this paper is at the high end of this continuum and to describe the characteristics of the population targeted and served by the non-traditional doctoral programs. It is hoped that by drawing attention to this growing population and its importance that this will stimulate the development of additional programs that address this critical need.

Educational programs addressing each of the worker groups along the skill continuum are well established, that is, except for those at the doctoral level who wish to pursue and advance their career along technological leadership trajectories in business, industry, and public service. This latter group has not been well served by traditional PhD programs that generally are designed to develop people seeking a career in academia. In the United Kingdom, 98% of the Doctorate graduates are employed in non-academic roles, however the traditional PhD degrees are geared towards preparing researchers for entry into academia. This percentage is similarly high in the USA.

But, what are the characteristics of the unserved population which would benefit from a technologically-focused business and industry doctorate? This paper was generated to present the characteristics of people actually served by three such doctoral programs, each at different institutions, and each at different stages of program development: One in its initial launch year, one operating for over six years and one operating since 1974. • XXX University, a mid-western land grant institution in the USA, has developed and gained both institutional and state approval to offer such a doctorate. In securing such approval, an extensive needs assessment was conducted, and this was followed by a soft-start pilot program. Subsequent to these two activities, a proper first cohort was recruited and enrolled. Each of these steps was carefully documented and the characteristics of each of the students involved were researched. • XXX University, in the UK, is in its 6th year of operation, having recruited 5 cohorts and graduated the first one. The lessons learnt from the employment destinations of that first cohort are insightful for those considering the creation of such programs as well as for industry wishing to recruit doctoral graduates from this University/degree. • XXX University, a western land grant institution in the USA, is in its 45th year of operation with multiple graduates. Its records provide evidence over time as to the characteristics of those who pursue such industry-oriented non-traditional doctoral degrees. The purpose of this paper is to present the characteristics of this new population in order to describe it and to derive information that will be useful in guiding further program development to serve such populations even better in terms of both content and accessibility/delivery methods.

Among the key characteristics that will be summarized include demographics, age, gender, work experience, employer categories, career goals, specific programmatic goals, barriers to entry into a doctoral program, e.g., residency, and other relevant variables. Subsequently the implications of this population’s characteristics will be presented using the categories of: 1. Content important to build into industry-facing doctoral programs, 2. Delivery methods suitable for enrollees in such programs, 3. Instructional approaches and designs effective in serving such enrollees, 4. Advisement mechanisms and support systems needed to support such enrollees, and, 5. Recruitment strategies to attract the right talent/individuals to the program in order to enhance the capacity of the company/industry/agency where they will find employment OR that is already employing them.

Dyrenfurth, M. J., & Springer, M. L., & Newton, K., & Torres-Sánchez , C., & Jacobs, T. J., & Wolf, C. M. (2020, June), A Doctorate That Works: Nontraditional Populations Served on Both Sides of the Atlantic Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--33999

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2020 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015