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Exploring how Innovation Self-efficacy Measures Relate to Engineering Internship Motivations and Outcomes

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Cooperative and Experiential Education Division Technical Session 3 - Co-op Recruitment and Factors Affecting Success

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Cooperative and Experiential Education

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Paper Authors


Amy Huynh University of California, Irvine

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Amy Huynh is a mechanical and aerospace engineering undergraduate student at the University of California, Irvine. She is interested in better understanding and supporting the experiences of female and underrepresented engineers in the classroom and in industry. She is a Brooke Owens Fellow and has interned at NASA Goddard, Made In Space, and NASA Ames.

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Helen L. Chen Stanford University

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Helen L. Chen is a research scientist in the Designing Education Lab in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. She has been involved in several major engineering education initiatives including the NSF-funded Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education, National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), as well as the Consortium to Promote Reflection in Engineering Education. Helen holds an undergraduate degree in communication from UCLA and a PhD in communication with a minor in psychology from Stanford University. Her current research and scholarship focus on engineering and entrepreneurship education; the pedagogy of portfolios and reflective practice in higher education; and redesigning how learning is recorded and recognized in traditional transcripts and academic credentials.

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Krishnaswamy Venkatesh Prasad Ford Motor Company

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Dr. K. Venkatesh Prasad is the Senior Technical Leader for Corporate Strategy at Ford Motor Company.

Immediately prior to his current role, Dr. Prasad was responsible for influencing both transformative and organic innovation at Ford with a focus on scientific research and engineering of vehicle components and systems. His prior roles included the the research, architecture, standards, and proof-of-concepts development electronics and embedded software systems. His revolutionary thinking of a contemporary vehicle as an inter-networked platform-on-wheels in early 2000 has led to the successful development of the renowned Ford SYNC® system, which has directly impacted Ford’s present vehicle production.

Before joining Ford Motor Company in 1996, Prasad worked as a senior scientist at RICOH Innovations in Menlo Park, Calif., developing automatic “lip reading” as a novel human-machine interface. In addition, he was at Caltech and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., where he worked on the world’s first telerobotic visual surface inspection system to help design the International Space Station.

Attracted by an open-ended challenge to discover ways to integrate “intelligence” into cars and trucks, Prasad joined Ford to work with a small group of engineers in the development of adaptive headlamp and lane-mark detection technologies.
In 2011, Prasad architected OpenXC, the industry’s first open-source hardware and open-source software platform – an “innovator’s toolkit” – which launched in 2013 and today is one of the tools used by Ford employee-innovators to design, test and release products and by researchers and experimenters the world over.

He also co-founded Ford’s startup-lab in 2012 as a 5-person office; a year later it scaled to become Ford’s Research & Innovation Center Palo Alto and today is a 150-person operation.

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Sheri Sheppard Stanford University

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Sheri D. Sheppard, Ph.D., P.E., is professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. Besides teaching both undergraduate and graduate design and education related classes at Stanford University, she conducts research on engineering education and work-practices, and applied finite element analysis. From 1999-2008 she served as a Senior Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, leading the Foundation’s engineering study (as reported in Educating Engineers: Designing for the Future of the Field). In addition, in 2011 Dr. Sheppard was named as co-PI of a national NSF innovation center (Epicenter), and leads an NSF program at Stanford on summer research experiences for high school teachers. Her industry experiences includes engineering positions at Detroit's "Big Three:" Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, and Chrysler Corporation.

At Stanford she has served a chair of the faculty senate, and recently served as Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Education.

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In this evidence-based practice paper, it is recognized that experiential opportunities in the form of internships in industry represent significant experiences for engineering students to gain knowledge about the professional workplace and gain insight into potential future careers. Previous work has also found that working in a professional engineering environment such as a summer internship is a predictor of self-confidence and interest in innovation and technical engineering tasks. For industry, internship programs are opportunities for recruitment, allowing supervisors to “test-drive” the talent pool and identify potential hires through firsthand observation of their work and professional and interpersonal skills. To optimize the benefits gained from internship programs for both students and companies, it is important to understand the specific motivations of interns in order to inform the design of effective programs, guidelines, and environments.

In this study, 92 interns at a large global engineering company in the automotive industry completed a pre-internship survey in 2018 that included open-ended questions about their reasons for choosing to work at the company, the goals they hoped to accomplish, and what they hoped to learn during the internship. These qualitative findings will be triangulated and interpreted in relation to two quantitative datasets representing the self-reported experiences of two cohorts of summer interns at the end of their internships at the same company in 2017 (N=115) and 2018 (N=179). The analyses of these quantitative data will focus on the innovation and engineering task self-efficacy measures as well as additional constructs related to innovation interests and outcomes, postgraduate career goals and other influencing factors. Analyses disaggregating by gender will also be conducted.

The results from this research will inform an actionable understanding of how interns view engineering internships from the goals they articulate prior to starting their internship and upon completion as they prepare to leave the company. The findings will guide the development of recommendations and best practices for students seeking to optimize their internship experience as well as for industry partners, who are looking to innovate, transform and grow by providing insights into the design of an engaging and compelling internship experiences for students or potential future employees. Prototypes of sample infographics and other sample materials translating and communicating the research findings for these two critical stakeholders will also be shared.

Huynh, A., & Chen, H. L., & Prasad, K. V., & Sheppard, S. (2020, June), Exploring how Innovation Self-efficacy Measures Relate to Engineering Internship Motivations and Outcomes Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34641

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