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Assessing Department of Defense Demand for Veterans During and After Degree Completion

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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 1

Tagged Division

Military and Veterans

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Paper Authors


Alyson Grace Eggleston The Citadel

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Alyson G. Eggleston is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Fine Arts, and Communications at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, where she teaches STEM-focused technical writing and communication, writing-intensive courses for international students, and linguistics. She received her PhD from Purdue University in Linguistics, and she has a BA and MA in English with concentrations in TESOL and writing pedagogy from Youngstown State University. Her research and teaching interests are in technical and scientific writing pedagogy and the interaction of language and cognition. She is a member of Sigma Xi and ASEE.

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Robert J. Rabb P.E. The Citadel

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Robert Rabb is a professor and the Mechanical Engineering Program Director at The Citadel. He previously taught mechanical engineering at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the United States Military Academy and his M.S.E. and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. His research and teaching interests are in mechatronics, regenerative power, and multidisciplinary engineering.

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Federal agencies have assumed great efforts to support veteran employment. The Department of Defense (DoD) is no different and is the nation’s largest employer of veterans. Even in some geographic areas with numerous opportunities for veterans to fully integrate into the civilian sector, many veterans choose employment with a DoD organization or one of the local contractors supporting the DoD organization. The veterans’ desire to gain employment with a DoD or supported agency seems to be well matched with the DoD organizations’ desire to hire veterans. In [Institution’s] region, the demand for engineering graduates has grown significantly over the past decade as new industries and their feeder industries continue to grow. At the same time, DoD organizations and their contracted subsidiaries in the area have only marginally grown. However, even with the high demand for engineers in the civilian sector, engineering student veterans still pursue DoD employment. In both government and civilian sectors, there has emphasis on producing engineers that are technically proficient and possess professional skills such as leadership, organization, time management, and communication.

Surveys and follow up qualitative interviews, conducted individually with representatives from some local DoD organizations, suggest that these organizations receive abundant value from veterans. Veterans are noted for their leadership skills and teamwork; for their flexibility and ability to work in a changing environment without undue stress; for their dependability, integrity, and loyalty. Their military experience often fosters growth of these professional skills and make them effective and admired among peers in these organizations.

Surveys of student veterans indicate the desire to work with other veterans, work in a somewhat familiar organization with a hierarchy and lateral subunits like many military organizations, and a personal desire to work on equipment supporting the defense mission but in a different capacity. In addition, many of the DoD organizations offer generous benefits compared to some civilian employers, opportunities for personal and professional growth, travel, and advancement.

This paper discusses some of the professional skills recognized in veterans, as well as the cultural climate in some of the DoD organizations that attract engineering student veterans. It then provides examples of veterans in different DoD organizations as well as the civilian sector for comparison.

Eggleston, A. G., & Rabb, R. J. (2020, June), Assessing Department of Defense Demand for Veterans During and After Degree Completion Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34174

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