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Children’s Perceptions of Manufacturing Careers: Examining the Influence of Industry-Public Education Initiatives

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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

Pre-college Engineering Education Division Technical Session 10

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Greg J. Strimel Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Greg J. Strimel, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of Technology Leadership and Innovation and the coordinator of the Design and Innovation Minor at Purdue University. Dr. Strimel conducts research on design pedagogy, cognition, and assessments as well as the preparation of K-12 engineering teachers.

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Liesl Klein Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Liesl Krause is a current Ph.D. student at Purdue University in the Polytechnic Institute. She is currently funded through the Purdue Doctoral Fellowship. She has research interests in student career perceptions and student mentorship in graduate school. Liesl graduated from Villanova University in 2016 with her Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering and graduated from Purdue University's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering in 2018 with her Master's.

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Sydney Taylor Serban Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Sydney Serban is an undergraduate student at Purdue University, where she majors in Mechanical Engineering Technology and double minors in Dance and Design & Innovation. In addition to her studies, Sydney has been an undergraduate researcher through Purdue Polytechnic Institute for the past two years.

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Manufacturing has been an important factor in the United States economy since the start of the industrial revolution and it continues to influence the nation’s economic success. The United States produces 18.2% of all the world’s goods, which is the most production by any one country, trailed by China who produces 17.6% of the world’s goods (Amadeo, 2019). However, by 2028, it is estimated that manufacturing in the United States will face a shortage of over two million workers (Deloitte, 2017). A 2018 Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute study revealed that the search for skilled talent was ranked as the number one concern for manufacturing competitiveness by global manufacturing executives. This study also found that these executives believed that more than half of the open jobs could remain unfilled because of a “shifting” skill set due to the introduction of new advanced technology along with the negative perception students/their parents have toward the manufacturing industry. As studies have shown, society seems to hold a negative perception of manufacturing careers (Authors, 2018; 2019; Deloitte, 2017), which likely prevents many potential workers from exploring the field. Accordingly, recommendations have been made to remedy this issue by investing in long-term industry and public education partnerships. While manufacturers have now launched numerous outreach initiatives in collaboration with public education institutions to spread career awareness to students at the K-12 level, limited research on how such initiatives influence children manufacturing career perceptions exists. Therefore, this study investigated the potential influence of a weeklong manufacturing outreach event on children’s career perceptions. 672 students from grades K through 12 were surveyed before and after the industry-driven outreach event focused on manufacturing. The survey results were analyzed to determine any significant changes in regard to the participants’ career perceptions and open-response questions were coded to provide a qualitative description of their experience during the event. The results of this analysis are presented and used as a foundation for discussions and recommendations for developing industry-led outreach initiatives and preparing children for the future of work.

Strimel, G. J., & Klein, L., & Serban, S. T. (2020, June), Children’s Perceptions of Manufacturing Careers: Examining the Influence of Industry-Public Education Initiatives Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34281

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