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Academic Preparation in a Co-Op Program as a Career Enhancement Tool for International Engineering Graduates

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Expanding the Borders of Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Cooperative & Experiential Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.132.1 - 22.132.17



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Paper Authors


Sandra Ingram University of Manitoba

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Sandra Ingram, Ph.D., is an associate professor in Design Engineering and adjunct professor in Biosystems Engineering at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. Dr. Ingram is responsible for teaching an integrated approach to technical communication in Biosystems Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering. Her research interests include mentorship and networking within engineering, integrated approaches to technical communication and post-graduate training of engineers.
Address: E2-262 Engineering and Technology Complex, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg Canada, R3T 5V6; Telephone:(1) 204-474-9698; Email:

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Anita H. Ens University of Manitoba

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Anita Ens is a Ph.D. candidate in Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. She has over 15 years of experience working with adults in adult education and postsecondary settings, with particular focus on learning strategies and writing pedagogy. Influenced by the social, cultural, and relational aspects of learning, her research interests include collaborative writing, sustainability in education, and diversity in learning groups.

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Marcia R. Friesen University of Manitoba

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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.

Ingram, S., & Ens, A. H., & Friesen, M. R. (2011, June), Academic Preparation in a Co-Op Program as a Career Enhancement Tool for International Engineering Graduates Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17413

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