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Challenges Facing Graduating Engineers in their Transition from College to Career

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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

Experiential Learning Programs and the Transition to Industry

Tagged Division

College Industry Partnerships

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.317.1 - 22.317.10



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Paper Authors


Hoda Baytiyeh American University, Beirut

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Hoda Baytiyeh is a computer engineer. She has earned a Ph.D. in Instructional Technology from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She is currently an assistant professor in the Education Department at The American University of Beirut. Her research interests include Engineering Education, ubiquitous computing using Open Source Software, and online learning communities.

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Mohamad K. Naja The Lebanese University

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Mohamad Naja has earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Michigan State University at East Lansing. He is currently an associate professor in the Civil Engineering Department at The Lebanese University. He is teaching courses related to Dynamics of structures and Seismic design of buildings. His research focuses on behaviors of structures under earthquake loading, and quality of engineering Education.

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Challenges Facing Graduating Engineers in their Transition from College to CareerTransition from college to engineering career is highly complex and critical for graduatingengineers. Succeeding in this transition is not limited to the completion of the academicrequirements, but it is also the readiness of intelligently functioning in a different world ofculture, behavior, and reward. The aim of this study is to examine the career transition ofengineering students in the Middle East region. Once graduated from college, engineers starttheir career to be practitioners of the subject. They team up together to develop and test newproducts, to find solutions for problems, as well as to work on new inventions. The Communityof Practice is defined as a group of people who engage in a shared activity while socialinteraction is a critical component of learning, and practice by itself is a learning process. Theconcept of legitimate peripheral participation explains how novices become full members of acommunity. Newcomers become more proficient through their practice, and their identity isdeveloped while moving from the periphery to the center. In this study, the transition fromcollege to working life is viewed as the trajectory from the peripheral to the core of theengineering community where engineers search for their real identity in their life career. Thistransition is scrutinized to understand the difficulties and challenges that novice engineers face tobecome full-fledged members of the engineering community. Practicing engineers (n=217) fromLebanon were surveyed to identify their current employment and their attitudes toward theiracademic preparation level for a smoother transition. Open-ended questions were used to gatherinformation identifying the needs that may facilitate such transition. The findings revealed anumber of challenges facing engineering graduates. The respondents expressed the desire formore emphasis on practical aspects with less theory in curricula, and for the integration ofmanagerial skills. While locating a job seems to be somehow uncomplicated due to the highprosperity of the Arabic Gulf States, it is evident that engineering graduates confront criticalissues during the transition process. Participants’ comments suggest the implementation of acooperative relation between the engineering industries and the academic institutions in order tofacilitate such transition.

Baytiyeh, H., & Naja, M. K. (2011, June), Challenges Facing Graduating Engineers in their Transition from College to Career Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17598

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