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A Systems Engineering Approach to a Mentorship Program for Online Military and Veteran Engineering Students

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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

Military and Veterans Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Military and Veterans

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Paper Authors


Reza Rahdar Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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Dr. Reza Rahdar, currently a full time faculty of the College of Aeronautics, have over 25 years of experience in systems design/development, and engineering systems that include telecommunication systems and networks, Radio communications, air defenses systems, avionics systems, and Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS). Dr. Rahdar developed proficiency with systems engineering principles, process, and practices. He is an expert in taking systems from inception through design, development, and production. His skills are included but not limited to operations research, analytical/statistical analysis, trade studies, new product introduction including gates and design reviews processes, risk and opportunity management, reliability, availability & maintainability, and safety analysis, and complex project management

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Ghazal Barari Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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Ghazal Barari received her PhD in mechanical engineering from University of Central Florida. Her research was focused on combustion modeling of promising biofuels in order to find a suitable substitute for fossil fuels. She started her career as a tenure track assistant professor in the college of engineering at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University at Prescott, Arizona where she was teaching mechanical and aerospace engineering Fluid mechanics and Thermodynamics courses. She joined ERAU-Worldwide College of Engineering as an assistant professor in 2018.

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Yuetong Lin Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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Yuetong Lin received the Ph.D. degree in Systems and Industrial Engineering from the University of Arizona, Tucson, in 2005. He was with Indiana State University from 2005 to 2016, where he became associate professor of Electronics and Computer Engineering Technology, and the program coordinator for Computer Engineering Technology. He joined Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Worldwide in September 2016 as an associate professor in the Department of Engineering and Technology.

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Ryan Goyings Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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I am currently an engineering instructor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide. I’m currently living in Clarksville, Tennessee and been here since 2014. I’m originally from Paulding, Ohio, but served 24 years in the Army and so I’ve lived all over the continental United States – and two one-year tours at Camp Casey, Korea. I’ve also spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan.

My last assignment on active duty was at Fort Campbell, KY where I had the opportunity to serve as the Deputy Chief of Aviation Operations for the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) Division.

I received my Master’s in Aeronautical Engineering from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. I graduated from the United States Military Academy (USMA) in 2001.

I taught in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy from 2011-2104.

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Online education is experiencing an explosive growth over the past decade. According to the latest report from the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics, the number and proportion of college and university students taking classes online grew solidly by 5.7% in 2017, even as overall post-secondary enrollments fell by 0.5%. Despite the tremendous growth, online education still faces significant challenges. Among them, the lack of frequent and meaningful interaction between students and faculty members has often been emphasized as the main obstacle for increasing the quality of online educational experience and improving student outcomes and satisfaction.

The flexibility and personalized learning opportunities offered by online modality are especially appealing to military students. The Education Department, using latest available statistics, found that 18% of military undergraduates took all of their courses online, compared with 12% of their nonmilitary peers. Among military graduate students, 41% attended fully online compared to 19% of nonmilitary graduate students. As the No. 1 online undergraduate university in the country, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University serves a vast student population in active duty service members and veterans. In the engineering and engineering technology programs of Worldwide campus, active military and veterans account for 50% and 20% of enrollment,respectively. In addition to the difficulties faced by traditional and other non-traditional students, military students have to endure confusions and overcome barriers in the online environment that are unique to their professional and private lives. Helping this demographic earn college degrees and establish career paths not only has significant educational ramifications, but also serves a noble social cause for the country.

It is in this background that the College of Aeronautics in Embry Riddle Aeronautical University developed and launched a mentorship program aimed at helping online engineering and engineering technology students, in particular military and veterans succeed not only within, but also beyond the academic programs. The word ”Mentor” comes from a character in Homer’s Odyssey also named Mentor (in Greek MENTΩP), and now refers to a trusted advisor who teaches or gives advice to a less experienced and often younger person. Mentors are a vital part of the corporate and industry structure, as evidenced by various apprenticeship and internship programs that provide the trainees the needed guidance on the path to take and motivation for maintaining course. The COA mentorship program is designed to provide professional insights,pitfall avoidance, educational navigation suggestions, and a vision for what students can accomplish beyond the educational journey.

In this paper, we will demonstrate the necessity of the mentorship program and its impact on students, especially military students. We will present the systems engineering approach for developing the program from defining stakeholders, establishing their relationship to the program success, soliciting requirements, integrating functional components, to verifying design solution.

Rahdar, R., & Barari, G., & Lin, Y., & Goyings, R. (2020, June), A Systems Engineering Approach to a Mentorship Program for Online Military and Veteran Engineering Students Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34071

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