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A Study of Aerospace Engineering Student Professional Persistence

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Aerospace Division Technical Session 1

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Page Count


Page Numbers

26.114.1 - 26.114.16



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Paper Authors


Wm. Michael Butler Virginia Tech

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Wm. Michael Butler is an Associate Professor of Practice in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. He is a 23 year aerospace industry design professional with B.S. and M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Virginia Tech and a PhD. in Engineering Education also from Virginia Tech. His engineering education research is focused on the use of design tools and live simulation in engineering design education as a means to better prepare students for industry. He is a Senior Member of AIAA and a member of ASEE. Michael is also a co-inventor on two patents relating to air vehicle design.

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A Study of Aerospace Engineering Student Professional PersistenceThe pending retirement of the baby-boom generation impacts all areas of engineering in theUnited States. According to the Committee on the National Aerospace Initiative, in order tomaintain aerospace leadership, the United States must continue to have a highly skilled, stable,secure, and growing aerospace workforce. In order to meet these needs, high professionalpersistence will be required of the students studying aerospace engineering today and in thefuture. How do today’s students view the aerospace profession and do they desire to have thelong careers in aerospace engineering required to meet the needs expressed by the NationalAerospace Initiative? A survey was conducted in 2009 called the Survey of Aerospace StudentAttitudes which attempted to capture the beliefs and attitudes of aerospace engineering studentsfrom a number of aerospace engineering programs from across the United States. A quantitativeanalysis of the results of this survey was conducted in an attempt to understand modern daystudent perceptions of the field and see how they impact persistence. In particular, the followingquestions were addressed:(1) What are the professional persistence characteristics of present day aerospace engineeringstudents?(2) How does the aerospace engineering education experience influence student perception ofaerospace engineering?(3) What may be done now and in the future to maintain and increase persistence in the field?Multiple regression analysis of results from this survey indicates that most of today’s aerospaceengineering students do in fact desire to have careers in the field and that aerospace workexperiences do have a positive impact on this desire. Results also indicate that there are areas forpotential improvement to further increase student professional persistence in aerospace.

Butler, W. M. (2015, June), A Study of Aerospace Engineering Student Professional Persistence Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23455

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