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Communicating the Value of a Transdisciplinary Degree: Comparing and Contrasting Perceptions Across Student Groups

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Experiences of Multidisciplinary Engineering Students

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

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Paper Authors


Lisa Bosman Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Bosman is an Assistant Professor in Technology Leadership and Innovation and the Program Coordinator for Transdisciplinary Studies in Technology. Her STEM education research interests include entrepreneurial mindset, renewable energy, competency-based learning, self-regulated learning, transdisciplinary education, civic engagement, and faculty professional development. She spent the first part of her career working as a manufacturing engineer for world-class companies including Harley-Davidson, John Deere, and Oshkosh Defense and continues to provide workforce development consulting within this area.

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Nathalie Duval-Couetil Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Nathalie Duval-Couetil is the Director of the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, Associate Director of the Burton D. Morgan Center, and a Professor in the Department of Technology Leadership and Innovation at Purdue University. She is responsible for the launch and development of the university’s multidisciplinary undergraduate entrepreneurship program, which involves 1800 students from all majors per year. She has established entrepreneurship capstone, global entrepreneurship, and women and leadership courses and initiatives at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Prior to her work in academia, Nathalie spent several years in the field of market research and business strategy consulting in Europe and the United States with Booz Allen and Hamilton and Data and Strategies Group. She received a BA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, an MBA from Babson College, and MS and PhD degrees from Purdue University.

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Multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary engineering and technology programs are growing in popularity and prior studies have identified advantages to students who participate in these innovative, boundary-crossing programs. Yet, challenges with these types of degrees persist, most importantly, whether stakeholders (e.g., students, university advisors and staff, and industry) recognize the value proposition offered via these degree programs, including but not exclusive to how to recruit students and pitch the value of the degree to future employers. The purpose of this study is to identify issues associated with communicating the value proposition of a transdisciplinary engineering and technology bachelor’s degree. Personal elevator pitches, one of many tools commonly used to communicate a job seeker’s value proposition, were used to discern the perceptions of the value of the transdisciplinary degree to employers. The exploratory findings contribute to efforts to continue to improve transdisciplinary bachelor’s degree programs and their value proposition to students. First, the results indicate that students are able to leverage prior experiences as a means to showcase their value to future employers. Second, they are aware of the value provided by completion of a transdisciplinary program prior to entering the workplace in the future. However, findings suggest challenges with the value proposition remain. In general, students aren’t really sure what type of job to focus on. Finally, students appear to recognize more value in projects and extracurricular activities completed outside the classroom, than those completed within the transdisciplinary classroom. This information has proved beneficial for program staff as they continue to make programmatic improvements.

Bosman, L., & Duval-Couetil, N. (2019, June), Communicating the Value of a Transdisciplinary Degree: Comparing and Contrasting Perceptions Across Student Groups Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32519

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