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A New Vision For Engineering Technology Programs To Strengthen Recruitment And Retention

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Recruitment & Retention in ET Programs

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.75.1 - 13.75.10



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Paper Authors


Kenneth Dudeck Pennsylvania State Univ.-Hazleton Campus

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KENNETH DUDECK is an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University located in Hazleton PA. He has been teaching Electrical, Computer, and Electrical Technology Engineering Courses for the past 20 years. He is also a consultant for the Naval Air Warfare center in Patuxent River, MD.

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Wieslaw Grebski Pennsylvania State University

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WIESLAW GREBSKI is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University located in Hazleton PA. He has been teaching Mechanical and Mechanical Engineering Technology curses for the past 24 years. He also serves as the statewide 2MET Coordinator at Penn State.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A New Vision for Engineering Technology Programs to Strengthen Recruitment and Retention


Most engineering technology programs in the United States are struggling with low enrollments and difficulty in recruiting and retaining students. The declining enrollments are especially felt in two-year associate degree technology programs. Despite the claims from industry that it is increasingly difficult to find well qualified workers with technology backgrounds, recruitment still remains a struggle. Engineering programs on the other hand recruit well, but suffer from lower retention.

This paper presents a plan for a major curricular change that is being implemented across the commonwealth at the Pennsylvania State University that will provide stronger matriculation pathways for both two-year technology and engineering transfer students into baccalaureate engineering technology programs. One of the features of this new curriculum is a common freshman year for the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Technology programs. Another feature is the sophomore year where students elect to follow an associate degree track that is streamlined towards matriculation into a BSET degree or focus squarely on the two year degree, but concentrated in a specialization area identified by local industry.

Recognizing the Problems

Due to low enrollments and difficulty in recruiting students, many colleges and universities are eliminating their engineering technology programs because of high costs. However, high-tech manufacturing companies in the United States rely on graduates from engineering technology programs. The reluctance of students and the lack of encouragement from their parents to enter such programs, despite the demands of the workplace and career potential, have been well documented1. “Tech Prep” and other programs have sought to correct what has been seen by many as a simple problem of career awareness and curricular matching, but enrollments in engineering technology programs have not responded. At the same time, many undergraduates seek careers in engineering for which they are ill-prepared, while others avoid programs based on STEM altogether2. Also, many graduates of engineering technology programs need additional training in other fields to be useful to their employers3.

Statistics show that only 10% of high school graduates in the United States pursue either engineering or engineering technology careers, while 20% of German and Japanese students pursue such careers. A primary reason for this difference in career choice is the incomplete understanding both by students and their parents of career possibilities in technology-related disciplines and how those careers can be attained4. In 1995, only 6.7% of all US bachelor’s degrees awarded were in engineering. During that same year Japan and Germany had much greater percentages of engineering graduates, 19.3% and 19.7%, respectively5.

Dudeck, K., & Grebski, W. (2008, June), A New Vision For Engineering Technology Programs To Strengthen Recruitment And Retention Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3255

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