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A Qualitative Study Of The Student Internship Experience

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Assessment & Quality Accredition in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.92.1 - 9.92.34



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Paper Authors

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John Rowe

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Tim Mulroy

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


A Qualitative Study of the Student Inter nship Exper ience

J ohn W K Rowe, Tim J Mulr oy

Sheffield Hallam Univer sity, UK


Students studying engineering in universities are often offered a departmentally facilitated internship at some point in their program. In the UK this activity is referred to as placement and Engineering departments encourage and positively promote the placement process to students. Typically in the UK the placement lasts for 12 months, is taken between the 2nd and 3rd year of study with students placed in junior level engineering posts in a wide variety of working environments, mostly within England but with a significant number working in other countries.

In program documentation, the advantages of placement are celebrated and attempts to quantify the learning outcomes achieved have been made. However, because of the wide variety of geographical and cultural locations, work environments and the faculty lack of day to day control once a student has been placed, it is difficult to write these learning outcomes from an evidence base.

In this paper a qualitative approach has been used to illuminate the academic, personal and professional development of students resulting from the placement experience, based on the analysis of semi-structured student interview data. This paper reports upon the themes identified in the analysis and compares the results with those expected from the existing learning outcome statements.


One model of undergraduate engineering education exemplified by practice in the United Kingdom is for students’ programs of study to include significant elements of learning in the work place, supported by faculty oversight. The time students spend in the work place internship, which is usually in commercial companies, normally takes the form of paid employment with the student undertaking typical junior engineering/technician roles within the organization. To acknowledge the successful completion of the internship at the end of the program, students are awarded what are termed sandwich degrees to differentiate them from the alternate full-time program of study. The amount of academic credit offered for the successful completion of the placement varies between institutions1 but the title of the degree the student achieves reflects the successful completion of the sandwich element.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Rowe, J., & Mulroy, T. (2004, June), A Qualitative Study Of The Student Internship Experience Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13695

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