New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Educational Research and Methods
A growing body of evidence suggests that practicing engineers are increasingly expected to act as boundary spanners who can participate in and manage diverse local and global teams, translate competing stakeholder demands into effective design solutions, and leverage expert knowledge from multiple fields and specialties. The larger project represented by this paper responds to this reality by proposing boundary spanning as a core meta-attribute for engineering students and early career professionals. This paper more specifically offers a detailed description of the study design for a major phase of this research project that involves conducting in-depth, semi-structured interviews about boundary spanning experiences with more than two dozen early career engineers in the manufacturing, construction, and electronics industries. To keep the scope of the present account more manageable, this paper provides a preliminary window onto our findings. We utilize a single case approach with a focus on three themes emerging from our analysis of two interviews with one research subject. Namely, we discuss transitions from school to internships to full-time job, the social aspects of engineering practice, and the emotional and psychological dimensions of professional work. One leading objective for this paper is to explore the utility of investigating the realities of engineering work through the lens of an overarching meta-attribute such as boundary spanning. We also propose that our findings provide valuable glimpses of engineering practice that might benefit students who are studying or considering studying engineering. This paper may additionally appeal to educators and researchers who are interested in qualitative methods and/or empirical studies of professional practice.
Jesiek, B. K., & Buswell, N. T., & Mazzurco, A. (2016, June), Becoming Boundary Spanning Engineers: Research Methods and Preliminary Findings Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26370
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