Asee peer logo

Evaluating The Effectiveness Of Mentoring Doctoral Students For Academic Careers

Download Paper |


2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Mentoring Graduate Students, Diversity, and Assessment

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.532.1 - 15.532.8



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Carla Purdy University of Cincinnati

visit author page

Carla C. Purdy is an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Cincinnati, where she also directs the College of Engineering's Preparing Future Faculty program. Her research interests include intelligent embedded systems, bioinformatics, and computer simulations of biomolecular systems.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Mentoring Doctoral Students for Academic Careers


For students graduating with a Ph.D. in engineering today and opting for an academic career, the path to eventual promotion and tenure is likely to be long and difficult. While new Ph.D.s may understand the importance of continuing to do cutting-edge research, establishing a solid funding record, and obtaining strong teaching recommendations, there are many other factors important to career success of which they may be unaware. For example, they may have little knowledge of how formal promotion and tenure rules may be interpreted by their colleagues, what an annual performance evaluation really means, how to establish a good network of mentors with whom to discuss important career decisions, or how to realistically gauge their own progress or lack thereof and take any corrective action needed at the particular institution where they are employed. The question of how to ensure that our graduates have a sufficient understanding of both the formal rules and the common assumptions of academic culture, while they are focusing most of their energies on solving challenging research questions, is a difficult one. However, many institutions today are providing enrichment programs for their Ph.D. students that encourage them to acquire teaching skills, along with their research skills. Such programs may also provide some coaching for academic job searches. For the past ten years, the University of Cincinnati's Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering has conducted a Preparing Future Faculty in Engineering program, a series of seminars for advanced Ph.D. students. This program originally focused on improving teaching skills but has increasingly incorporated career advice, not only for obtaining an initial position but also for establishing a successful academic career. In this paper, we survey participants from this program to determine their perceptions of the effectiveness of these career-building components. Our overall goal is to strengthen this aspect of our program, without detracting from its original purpose of developing teaching skills. As our program is designed to be flexible and resource-moderate, any effective strategies which we develop can be replicated to provide better overall career training for Ph.D. students at many other institutions.

Introduction The Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) in Engineering program at the University of Cincinnati (UC) was originally established in 1999 to carry out the goals defined by the national PFF program1, i.e., to prepare Ph.D. students to teach and to provide them with multiple mentors. At the time, there were many job opportunities for engineering faculty in general and for computer science faculty in particular. Thus the UC PFF program2,3 focused on providing information on modern teaching techniques, some practical teaching experience, and basic information on how to be successful in an academic job search. An integral part of the UC program, as with all PFF programs, has been introducing the student participants, who are earning Ph.D. degrees in research universities, to the possibility of more teaching-focused careers in institutions serving undergraduates. At UC, practical experience and mentoring in a teaching-focused

Purdy, C. (2010, June), Evaluating The Effectiveness Of Mentoring Doctoral Students For Academic Careers Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16657

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015