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Board 15: Understanding the Educational and Career Pathways of Engineers

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Elizabeth Cady National Academy of Engineering

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Dr. Elizabeth T. Cady is a Program Officer at the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), where she facilitates the deployment of innovative policies, practices, and tools designed to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of systems for the formal, informal, and lifelong education of engineers. She currently helps lead a project that will develop a toolkit to guide teachers, administrators, and other stakeholders in the effective implementation of engineering education in K-12 and works on projects that examine and recommend action for the engineering educational system from precollege to higher ed. She staffs the Frontiers of Engineering Education symposium and also co-edited a collection of resources that translated research on women in science and engineering into short documents containing practical tips for faculty members to incorporate into their classrooms and other interactions with students. She is a co-author of several peer-reviewed conference presentations on engineering education topics such as building skills in project management and change leadership, diversity, and developing communities of practice within engineering education and engineering education research. Dr. Cady earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Cognitive and Human Factors Psychology from Kansas State University and a B.A. in psychobiology and political science from Wheaton College in Massachusetts.

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Proctor Page Reid National Academy of Engineering

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Proctor P. Reid directs the Program Office of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), a private, independent, nonprofit institution that provides engineering leadership in service to the nation. As Director of Programs, Dr. Reid is responsible for overall direction and management of NAE program activities and staff. Beginning his tenure with the NAE Program Office in 1988 as an NAE Fellow, Reid was appointed senior program officer in 1991, associate director in 1996, co-director in 2000, and director in 2005. Since joining the Academy, he has served as the lead professional staff to multiple NAE committee studies, workshops, and symposia on issues related to the globalization of engineering, technological dimensions of competitiveness, U.S.-China cooperation on energy and environment, systems approaches to health and healthcare, future of engineering education, research, and practice, and vitality of the engineering workforce.
In addition to his work with the Academy, Reid has served as Secretary to the AAAS Section on Industrial Science and Technology and as a professorial lecturer at the Johns Hopkins University, Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, where he received his Ph.D. in international relations in 1989. Before joining the NAE, he was an instructor in political economy at Oberlin College (1986-1987) and worked as a consultant to the National Research Council (1988) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (1984-1985). He was elected a Fellow of the AAAS in 2013.

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A committee of experts gathered and analyzed data to explore questions about the career choices of engineering graduates and those employed as engineers with non-engineering degrees in the United States. The project addressed three objectives and related questions: Objective 1: Examine the characteristics of those trained or working as engineers, including age, gender, educational background, and occupational sector. 1) What kinds of occupations/jobs do engineering graduates have and what competencies do they bring to the workplace and the tasks they perform? 2) How do compensation levels differ among engineering graduates working as engineers, engineering graduates working in non-STEM fields, and those without engineering degrees working as engineers? Objective 2: Examine factors that influence the career decisions of those trained or working as engineers, including individual characteristics, motivation, self-efficacy, educational experience, economic incentives, job satisfaction, and job mobility. 1) What factors most explain engineering graduates’ choice of occupation and how do these factors and their influence change over time? 2) Are those with engineering degrees choosing willingly or being diverted unwillingly out of engineering careers? 3) Do these factors differ across groups that are underrepresented in engineering? Objective 3: Consider the implications of current career pathways to and through engineering for: undergraduate engineering students, post-secondary engineering programs, continuing engineering education initiatives, and national interests. 1) How should information about career pathways in engineering affect the curriculum in engineering programs, engineering pedagogy, and the criteria schools use to matriculate students into these programs? 2) How should continuing and on-the-job engineering education efforts leverage this information to better align the competencies of engineers with the needs of employers? 3) How well aligned are the skills and knowledge acquired in formal engineering education with the skills and knowledge needed on the job? 4) How should the engineering enterprise increase representation of women, underrepresented minorities, and other marginalized groups? By assessing the expectations, training, employment options, and employment choices of those trained or employed as engineers in the US, this project identifies opportunities, challenges, and potential actions for all stakeholders to strengthen the nation’s engineering workforce and the education enterprise that supports it. By critically evaluating the range of data sources relevant to engineering career pathways, the project challenges some long-held assumptions about not only what engineers do but also what education and training is needed to do engineering, leading to more productive discussions within engineering education and among engineering education leaders, policy makers, and industry about the training and employment of engineers. Over the longer term, the project will encourage potentially transformative efforts to make these pathways more viable, including changes to engineering education that provide undergraduate students with the experiences and tools they need in their careers and changes to the entire engineering education and workforce continuum that create a more inclusive environment for all engineers. This award was co-funded by the Division of Undergraduate Education in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources and by the Division of Engineering Education and Centers in the Directorate for Engineering.

Cady, E., & Reid, P. P. (2018, June), Board 15: Understanding the Educational and Career Pathways of Engineers Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29951

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