June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.250.1 - 15.250.11
Building Engineers One Posting at a Time: Social Networking for Recruiting Engineering Majors
As social networking continues to gain in popularity, essential functions traditionally assigned to electronic mail, instant messaging and conventional websites are slowly being subsumed by, and coalesced within, social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. These sites offer what are basically personalized and enhanced versions of both electronic mail and static content in a user-created digest form and thus represent a significant departure from the most familiar electronic information formats. During the recruiting season for a recent incoming class of civil and mechanical engineers, the authors made a significant effort to reduce the distance between information about our programs, the profession, members of the profession and students by creating a significant presence for the department on a popular social networking site. This paper presents the outreach goals of the initiative, the nuts-and-bolts of how it was executed, the effect on recruiting and student excitement and, lastly, the author’s observations and recommendations for similar efforts.
In the summer and early fall of 2009, recognizing the growth of social networking within the daily lives of our students, we initiated a project to improve the visibility and profile of the West Point civil and mechanical engineering programs through the use of a Facebook fan site. This project aligns with earlier efforts by the authors to reach students efficiently and effectively using then-current social networks and popular internet communication modes (Klosky et al, 2008; Klosky and Ressler 2007; Klosky and Klosky, 2006 and Klosky et al. 2006). Specifically, the purpose of our Facebook site was to improve the recruiting of engineering majors into these programs by creating excitement, presenting positive images of current students and interacting with students interested in an engineering major but unsure of their decision. In recent years, it had also become increasingly clear that our students were not visiting the department website on a regular basis, but rather regarded it like a book to be read once, if at all. We therefore resolved, based on observation and data, to meet the students on their own ground.
Targeting a Facebook site at current students may seem an odd approach given the timeline for the selection of majors at most universities. At West Point, however, students select their major field of study during the first four weeks of their sophomore year; thus, we had ample time to actually reach these potential majors prior to their decision.
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