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Engineering Education Ph.D. Students: Where Are They Now and What Was the Job Search Process Like?

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

SD Technical Session: Tricks of the Trade

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

24.496.1 - 24.496.15



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Paper Authors


Rachel Louis Kajfez Ohio State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Rachel Louis Kajfez is an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Engineering Education Innovation Center and the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geodetic Engineering at The Ohio State University. She earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering from Ohio State and earned her Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech. Her research interests focus on the intersection between motivation and identity of undergraduate and graduate students, first-year engineering programs, mixed methods research, and innovative approaches to teaching. Currently, she teaches within the first-year engineering program at Ohio State while maintaining an active engineering education research program.

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Colleen Marie Croyle The Ohio State Univeristy

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I was accepted into the Mechanical Engineering major during fall semester 2012 of my sophomore year. As a junior Mechanical Engineering student I continue to work towards my major along with a minor in Business Entrepreneurship to help me pursue a leadership role in the engineering field. Coinciding with my academic career I enjoy being a member and leader of multiple organizations. I have been a member of Green Engineering Scholars since my freshman year. Within the program I worked on my teamwork skills by participating in many volunteering and engineering events with fellow members. I also help plan events and projects for the program as a member of both the social and mentorship committees. As the Ohio State University Pistol Club Vice President I have gained valuable experience as a leader; teaching members how to properly and safely handle a pistol. Besides being involved with these activities I enjoy volunteering for my high school Science Olympiad team. I help coach and run events for the team when they attend invitationals in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. I enjoy going back to help the students learn more about science and engineering and my career at Ohio State University enables me to teach them.

As an Engineering student I have been an intern for multiple companies. When I interned at Case Western Reserve University I helped collect research data for a study the school of nursing was conducting. Part of my role as a research assistant was to document the research process with interactive adobe software. Later, the school published the interactive article I created. At Rockwell Automation I helped program and design updates to air handler units for General Mills. I gained hands on experience while working directly with the customer through the design and installation processes. Last summer I interned at General Electric Healthcare within the MRI coils division. My internship role gave me extensive experience with designing mechanical components and testing fixtures for MRI Coil assemblies. Then, I completed numerous verification and validation tests for the components to make sure they complied with strict medical classification standards. I am currently an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant for the First Year Engineering Series. My role entails helping the students understand the material by answering their questions, grading their papers, and tutoring them on difficult subjects. I greatly enjoy teaching the students because they are extremely fascinated with engineering and love to learn.

Being a top engineering student is a key component to my goals which will carry into my career. I would like to pursue a Masters in Engineering and work at a prestigious Engineering company once I graduate where I can apply my knowledge of business entrepreneurship to the field of engineering. I also hope to work for a university as an engineering professor and counselor after gaining experience in industry so I can use my education and experience to help new engineering students on their path to graduation. Receiving a scholarship would enable me to spend more time focusing on my academics, community service, and student organizations without the burden of how to pay for my education. The schooling that I would gain from receiving a scholarship will greatly enhance my future and set me up for success.

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Alison N. Snyder

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Mahnas Jean Mohammadi-Aragh Mississippi State University Orcid 16x16

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Engineering Education Ph.D. Students: Where Are They Now And What Was The Job Search Process Like?Engineering education as a research field is ever growing with more programs being developedthat offer a Ph.D. specifically in the discipline. With this evolution, it is important forprospective and current students to understand what jobs are available for individuals who obtainsuch degrees after they graduate and what experiences in the job search process are like. Wehypothesize that as the field has evolved so has the job search process and market for those withthese types of degrees. This “Tricks of the Trade” paper will provide information related to thehypothesis through a mixed methods research project targeting those who have recently receiveda Ph.D. in engineering education.This project will electronically employ Q methodology, an intrinsically qualitative andquantitative based approach, to answer the following research question: What are recentgraduates’ views of the engineering education job search process, and what types of positionsare they obtaining? For our study, we will contact recent graduates of two programs at twodifferent universities that offer a Ph.D. specifically in engineering education. To scope our work,we will limit our potential participants to those who have graduated in the last five years. Again,we believe the job market has changed since the initial evolution of these programs so scopingour timeframe to recent years provides a more accurate picture of the current market.Additionally, we recognize that other programs offer the same degree or similar degrees, but webelieve this approach will provide us with a strong baseline for answering our research questionfocused on those with this type of degree as it is relatively new. Future work may explore otherswith degrees in related fields. Analysis will include applying Q methodology approaches thatinclude clustering participants around trends and identifying salient views about engineeringeducation jobs and the job search process based on participant clusters.As more engineering education Ph.D. students enter the job market, it is essential that theyunderstand the current landscape and effectively can plan for future careers. Through our Qmethodology based study focused on “Tricks of the Trade,” we hope to provide insight into thisarea to assist future graduates with obtaining jobs in the field. Another benefit of this paper isthat we will highlight Q methodology which is not currently a common research approachemployed in engineering education.

Kajfez, R. L., & Croyle, C. M., & Snyder, A. N., & Mohammadi-Aragh, M. J. (2014, June), Engineering Education Ph.D. Students: Where Are They Now and What Was the Job Search Process Like? Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20387

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