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Early Internships for Engineering Technology Student Retention: A Pilot Study

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

CEED Paper Session 1: Using Co-Op and Internships to Improve Diversity, Retention, Learning, and Assessment

Tagged Division

Cooperative & Experiential Education

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Vedaraman Sriraman Texas State University - San Marcos

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Dr. Vedaraman Sriraman is a Piper and University Distinguished Professor of Engineering Technology and Associate Director of the LBJ Institute for STEM Education and Research at Texas State University. Dr. Sriraman's degrees are in mechanical and industrial engineering. His research interests are in engineering education, sustainability, and applied statistics. In the past, he has implemented several grants from the NSF, NASA and SME-EF. He has also received several teaching awards at Texas State.

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Bobbi J. Spencer Texas State University - San Marcos

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BJ Spencer, Architect AIA

Ms. Spencer is a senior lecturer of architectural design courses and internship coordinator in the Department of Engineering Technology at Texas State University. Ms. Spencer is presently pursuing a Ph.D. in Education here at Texas State University with her emphasis on professional education. A registered Architect in the State of Texas, she received a Master of Architecture from Texas A&M University in 2007 where she participated in a study abroad semester at the Universita della Svizzera italiana, Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio, Switzerland following 23 years of industry experience in architecture and construction. Ms. Spencer’s research interests include: architectural professional education, study abroad, internships, international education of architects, education in online and virtual environments, building information management, technology in construction management, and sustainable construction practices.

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Kimberly Grau Talley P.E. Texas State University - San Marcos Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Kimberly G. Talley is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Technology, Senior Research Fellow and Maker Space Co-Director for the LBJ Institute for STEM Education and Research at Texas State University, and a licensed Professional Engineer. She received her Ph.D. and M.S.E. from the University of Texas at Austin in Structural Engineering. Her undergraduate degrees in History and Construction Engineering and Management are from North Carolina State University. Dr. Talley teaches courses in the Construction Science and Management Program, and her research focus is in student engagement and retention in engineering and engineering technology education. Contact:

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Araceli Martinez Ortiz Texas State University - San Marcos

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Araceli Martinez Ortiz, Ph.D., is Assistant Research Professor of Engineering Education in the College of Education at Texas State University. Araceli is also director of the LBJ Institute for STEM Education and Research where she collaborates on various state and national STEM education programs and is PI on major grant initiatives such as the NASA Educator Professional Development Collaborative and NSF Texas State STEM Rising Stars. Araceli holds Engineering degrees from The University of Michigan and Kettering University. She holds a Masters degree in Education from Michigan State and a PhD in Engineering Education from Tufts University. Her research interests include studying the role of engineering as a curricular context for mathematics and science learning in K-20 and developing research-based active-learning instructional models and assessment instruments to enhance engineering students’ learning experiences and STEM teacher professional development. She works with teachers, families, and students from underrepresented communities.

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Research in engineering technology major retention suggests that early internships present an outstanding opportunity for freshman and sophomore students to engage, socialize and learn in communities of practice and to “discover” the link between theory and practice early in their academic tenure, leading to a consequent improvement in retention rates. At xxxx State University, the traditional senior level capstone internship program was reengineered and converted into a sophomore level program with minimal prerequisites so as to enable sophomore level engineering technology students to participate early in the internships, explore their majors and undergo experiential learning in the world of practice in their chosen disciplines. The motivation for this project came from onsite internship industry interviews and our industrial advisory boards which strongly suggested that early, “immersion” type industrial experiences would prepare students to become better learners. This conversion coincided with the strategic imperatives that stemmed from a university wide second year STEM major retention effort. This latter effort culminated in a four year NSF funded project, of which the early internships are a module. This paper describes the internship program reengineering effort, the details of the early internship program implementation and aspects of how the program is facilitating the assessment of student learning outcomes for ABET and other accreditation processes. The paper concludes with preliminary results that were harvested from the pilot implementation in Summer 2015 and with directions for future work.

Sriraman, V., & Spencer, B. J., & Talley, K. G., & Ortiz, A. M. (2016, June), Early Internships for Engineering Technology Student Retention: A Pilot Study Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26878

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