June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
Cooperative & Experiential Education
22.132.1 - 22.132.17
Exploring the Role of Co-operative Education Programs in Enhancing the Career Paths of International Engineering GraduatesInternational engineering graduates (IEGs) face similar obstacles to women in their efforts tointegrate into the profession. The challenges IEGs face, however, are complicated by cultural andlanguage based differences, often leading to isolation and failure to achieve licensure in theirnewly adopted countries. In North America, an aging population along with increasingimmigration has created greater diversity of employees within corporations, a trend that is likelyto continue. A deeper understanding of the acculturation of IEGs to engineering employmentsituations is timely to inform both engineering education and workplace practices. A qualitativestudy was conducted at a mid-western Canadian university over one year to investigate theexperiences of IEGs participating in a co-operative education program as part of an alternativelicensing pathway. This university, the first of its kind in Canada to offer such a program,combines an eight month academic program in addition to a four month co-op term to helpfacilitate IEG integration into the engineering workplace. Cooperative education programs havebeen shown to help less representative groups such as women integrate more effectively in theengineering profession due to the early attention given to such critical skills as mentoring andnetworking. Data for this study were based on multiple focus group interviews conducted withprogram participants and employers as well as co-op work term reports. Preliminary results pointto the value of the co-operative work term in developing among IEGs cultural competenciesintrinsic to career mobility in engineering.
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