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Developing Student-centered Partnerships: Professional Socialization and the Transition to Industry

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

College-Industry Partnerships Division Technical Session I: Students

Tagged Division

College Industry Partnerships

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Paper Authors


Glenda D Young Virginia Tech

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Glenda Young is a third year PhD Candidate in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She is from Starkville, MS where she attended Mississippi State University (MSU) and earned a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering. She also earned a Masters of Industrial and Systems Engineering from Auburn University (AU). Glenda is a Gates Millennium Scholar and her research interest include academic-industry partnerships, student transitions, and broadening participation in engineering.

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David B Knight Virginia Tech Department of Engineering Education Orcid 16x16

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David Knight is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education and affiliate faculty with the Higher Education Program, Center for Human-Computer Interaction, and Human-Centered Design Program. His research focuses on student learning outcomes in undergraduate engineering, learning analytics approaches to improve educational practices and policies, interdisciplinary teaching and learning, organizational change in colleges and universities, and international issues in higher education.

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Lee Michael Warburton AKKA Technologies

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Christopher David Ciechon

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There is a persistent dialogue among academic and industrial stakeholders regarding the ability of students to transition into full-time engineering positions in industry. Academia-industry partnerships are often leveraged to address issues related to this topic. Yet conversations about career readiness of graduates, skills required for early career success, and high attrition rates of early career engineers in the first five years continue. Professional socialization is one lens that can be used to explore how academia-industry partnerships can make a positive contribution to the conversation. Professional socialization refers to the process whereby a student acquires knowledge, gains experience to develop needed skills, and adopts engineering professional values that lead to a successful start in an engineering focused industry career (Weidman, Twale, & Stein, 2001). We consider that a gap between a student’s skills upon graduation and skills required for entering a particular industry position, leads some early career engineers to leave industry positions. Such gaps in professional socialization pose challenges to the academic and industrial stakeholders that work to connect engineering students to the engineering industry pathway.

Current literature highlights the work of national committees and discipline specific reports that identify skills students need in the future workforce, stress the need for academia and industry to assume joint responsibility, and recommend stakeholders collaborate to ensure that engineering students acquire these skills. However, few recommendations have been made regarding how academia-industry partnerships can be structured to best address the specific challenges associated with a student’s professional socialization.

In this paper, we leverage an existing academia-industry partnership program structure to illustrate how partnerships can move beyond just writing a check to support successful student transitions to industry. We present a model for creating new and improving existing partnerships that are designed to be student centered and support professional socialization. Similar approaches in partnering may lead to increased career readiness, narrowing the skill gap between graduation and entering into industry, and reducing attrition of engineers in the first five years on the engineering industry pathway. Academic stakeholders make advances through improved curriculum and tailored student experiences. While, in turn, industry stakeholders complete project deliverables and simultaneously train the future engineering workforce.

Young, G. D., & Knight, D. B., & Warburton, L. M., & Ciechon, C. D. (2016, June), Developing Student-centered Partnerships: Professional Socialization and the Transition to Industry Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26774

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