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Exploring the Experiences of First-generation Student Veterans in Engineering

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Conference

2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference

Location

Crystal City, Virginia

Publication Date

April 29, 2018

Start Date

April 29, 2018

End Date

May 2, 2018

Conference Session

Potpourri - Technical Session IV

Tagged Topic

Veterans

Page Count

16

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/29538

Download Count

126

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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 30 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 American 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 and engineering departments on diversifying their undergraduate student population. She remains an active researcher, including studying academic policies, gender and ethnicity issues, transfers, and matriculation models with MIDFIELD as well as student veterans in engineering. Her evaluation work includes evaluating teamwork models, statewide pre-college math initiatives, teacher and faculty professional development programs, and S-STEM programs.

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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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Joyce B. Main Purdue University, West Lafayette

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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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Michelle M. Camacho University of San Diego

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Michelle Madsen Camacho is Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of San Diego.

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Abstract

Understanding the experiences of first-generation students is important for expanding diversity and inclusion in engineering education. Some of these students may include the military as a part of their educational pathways. However, there is little research on the experiences of first-generation student veterans in engineering education. This qualitative study seeks to address this gap. The investigation focuses on first-generation student veterans in engineering (FGSVEs) (n=15) who were interviewed as a part of a larger study of SVEs (n=60) on four college campuses. The study addressed the following research questions:

(1) Why do FGSVEs decide to join the military? (2) Why do FGSVEs choose to major in engineering?

Results suggest that these FGSVEs join the military to gain some direction and purpose in their lives and to pay for college. They primarily choose engineering as a pathway toward financial stability and to engage in creative problem solving. This study reveals that the military provides opportunities to first-generation students that would otherwise not likely be available to them due to their reported lower level of motivation and academic discipline during and after high school. The study results can aid in the development of recruiting strategies and the design of more effective programs and policies for SVEs in general and first-generation SVEs in particular. For example, because many of these students overcame initial obstacles in higher education, they could be a potential pool of effective mentors in engineering, both to other student veterans and to first-generation students.

Mobley, C., & Brawner, C. E., & Lord, S. M., & Main, J. B., & Camacho, M. M. (2018, April), Exploring the Experiences of First-generation Student Veterans in Engineering Paper presented at 2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference, Crystal City, Virginia. https://peer.asee.org/29538

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