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Entering the Engineering Pathway: Student Veterans’ Decision to Major in Engineering

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Conference

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Military and Veterans Constituent Committee Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Military and Veterans

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

18

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/28285

Download Count

174

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Paper Authors

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Catherine Mobley Clemson University

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Catherine Mobley, Ph.D., is a Professor of Sociology at Clemson University. She has over 25 years experience in project and program evaluation and has worked for a variety of consulting firms, non-profit agencies, and government organizations, including the Rand Corporation, the American Association of Retired Persons, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. Since 2004, she been a member of the NSF-funded MIDFIELD research project on engineering education; she has served as a Co-PI on three research projects, including one on transfer students and another on student veterans in engineering.

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Catherine E. Brawner Research Triangle Educational Consultants

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Catherine E. Brawner is President of Research Triangle Educational Consultants. She received her Ph.D.in Educational Research and Policy Analysis from NC State University in 1996. She also has an MBA from Indiana University (Bloomington) and a bachelor’s degree from Duke University. She specializes in
evaluation and research in engineering education, computer science education, teacher education, and technology education. Dr. Brawner is a founding member and former treasurer of Research Triangle Park Evaluators, an American Evaluation Association affiliate organization and is a member of the Amer-
ican Educational Research Association and American Evaluation Association, in addition to ASEE. Dr. Brawner is also an Extension Services Consultant for the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT) and, in that role, advises computer science departments on diversifying their under-graduate student population. Dr. Brawner previously served as principal evaluator of the NSF-sponsored SUCCEED Coalition. She remains an active researcher with MIDFIELD, studying gender issues, transfers, and matriculation models in engineering.

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Joyce B. Main Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Joyce B. Main is Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She holds a Ph.D. in Learning, Teaching, and Social Policy from Cornell University, and an Ed.M. in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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Susan M. Lord University of San Diego

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Susan M. Lord received a B.S. from Cornell University and the M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University. She is currently Professor and Chair of Electrical Engineering at the University of San Diego. Her teaching and research interests include electronics, optoelectronics, materials science, first year engineering courses, feminist and liberative pedagogies, engineering student persistence, and student autonomy. Her research has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Lord is a fellow of the ASEE and IEEE and is active in the engineering education community including serving as General Co-Chair of the 2006 Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference, on the FIE Steering Committee, and as President of the IEEE Education Society for 2009-2010. She is an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Education. She and her coauthors were awarded the 2011 Wickenden Award for the best paper in the Journal of Engineering Education and the 2011 Best Paper Award for the IEEE Transactions on Education. In Spring 2012, Dr. Lord spent a sabbatical at Southeast University in Nanjing, China teaching and doing research.

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Michelle M. Camacho University of San Diego

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Michelle Madsen Camacho is Professor in the Department of Sociology and Special Assistant to the Provost at the University of San Diego. She is a former fellow of the American Council on Education at UC San Diego. Fluent in both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, her research uses theories from interdisciplinary sources including cultural studies, critical race, gender and feminist theories. Central to her work are questions of culture, power and inequality. She is co-author, with Susan Lord, of The Borderlands of Education: Latinas in Engineering.

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Abstract

As the engineering community seeks to widen the pathways toward engineering education, hundreds of thousands of military veterans are initiating their college studies at universities across the U.S. Given this trend, it is essential to better understand the factors that lead student veterans to choose to major in engineering.

We are conducting a comparative case study at four institutions enrolling undergraduate student veterans in engineering (SVEs). In this paper, we draw upon in-depth interviews conducted with SVEs at two of these institutions to: (1) better understand the factors that shape SVEs’ decisions to major in engineering and, (2) determine whether and how the military influences student veterans’ decisions to major in engineering. Our work provides insights into the timing of the decision as well as the extent to which military training and experiences provide a direct, or indirect, pathway into engineering.

We highlight student narratives to advance knowledge about SVE’s educational pathways on several fronts. Methodologically, our in-depth analysis allows us to capture the nuanced nature of SVE narratives that often remain hidden when using other approaches to studying engineering education. Theoretically, we draw from Cognitive Information Processing theory to more accurately reflect SVE decision making about majoring in engineering. Practically, the results can inform military transition assistance programs and improve university efforts to ensure that student veterans experience a successful transition from their military career to higher education and engineering studies.

Mobley, C., & Brawner, C. E., & Main, J. B., & Lord, S. M., & Camacho, M. M. (2017, June), Entering the Engineering Pathway: Student Veterans’ Decision to Major in Engineering Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28285

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