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Factors influencing students' choice of engineering major

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Retention and Persistence in Engineering

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.587.1 - 23.587.36



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Paper Authors


Maria-Isabel Carnasciali University of New Haven Orcid 16x16

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Maria-Isabel Carnasciali is Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering at the Tagliatela School of Engineering, University of New Haven, CT. She obtained her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech in 2008. Her undergraduate degree is from MIT from the Mechanical Engineering Department, received in 2000. Current engineering education research focuses on understanding the nontraditional student experiences, motivations, and identity development.
Other research interests involve validation of CFD models for aerospace applications as well as optimizing efficiency of thermal-fluid systems.

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Amy E Thompson University of New Haven

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Amy Thompson is an Assistant Professor of System and Industrial Engineering at the University of New Haven and serves as the BS System Engineering Program Coordinator. She earned her B.S. in Industrial Engineering, M.S. in Manufacturing Engineering, and Ph.D. in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering from the University of Rhode Island. In 2008, she was awarded Outstanding Student of the Year from the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) University Transportation Centers Program for her graduate research. She is also an inventor and was awarded a patent for an innovative product and package design for Novartis AG (Basel). At the University of New Haven, she teaches courses in system engineering concepts and the engineering design process as well as introductory freshman engineering courses. She conducts research in designing products for operational and environmental factors, in system optimization and in supply chain design.

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Terance Joshua Thomas University of New Haven

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Bachelors of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering from Karunya University, India, June 2011. Masters of Science in Industrial Engineering at the University of New Haven, May 2013.

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Factors Influencing Students’ Choice of Engineering MajorInvestment in science and technology education has been identified as a key component forensuring future prosperity for the nation by preparing qualified STEM professionals to lead theadvancement of technology, manufacturing, and infrastructure. Efforts to remain competitiveinternationally in engineering and technology require that engineering colleges train a diverse setof talented students. Increasing the number of trained engineers requires not only a continuouseffort to attract students to the traditional engineering majors, but also to newer majors likebioengineering, systems engineering, sustainability studies, etc. This study investigates thedifferent factors that can influence a K-12 student’s choice of an engineering major. The surveytool comprises a set of questions for engineering college upperclassman, which provides keyinsights as to why students selected their major originally, or decided to change it. The studyresults indicate whether key student characteristics, like gender and socio-economic background,influence the timing and selection of certain types of engineering majors. The analysis ofvariance method is used to determine whether student characteristics significantly affect theirchoices. Analysis and results provide insights into students’ decision-making process whenselecting engineering majors and has the potential to inform best practices for recruitingengineering students. A summary of the methods and findings of this study are presented alongwith discussion of the implications for new and innovative recruitment practices. Future workincludes expanding the study to other engineering colleges.

Carnasciali, M., & Thompson, A. E., & Thomas, T. J. (2013, June), Factors influencing students' choice of engineering major Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19601

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