Asee peer logo

Factors that Influence Engineering Freshman to Choose Their Engineering Major

Download Paper |


2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

First-Year Programs (FPD) Poster Session

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.589.1 - 23.589.13



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Stephen Zahorian Binghamton University

visit author page

Dr. Stephen A. Zahorian has a B.S. degree from the University of Rochester, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Syracuse University, all in Electrical Engineering. Dr. Zahorian joined the electrical and computer engineering department at Binghamton University in August of 2006 as professor and chairman of the department. His research and teaching interests are in the areas of signal processing, automatic speech recognition, using computers for biomedical signal processing, and renewable energy. He has obtained over 3 million dollars in total research funding and published over 60 papers in the area of speech signal processing. He and his students have developed a computer-based speech training aid for the hearing impaired. His work has resulted in one patent and one software licensing agreement for multi-media foreign language training. He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the Acoustical Society of America, and the American Society of Engineering Education. He has been active in community outreach activities involving middle and high school students. He has been principal investigator for federal grants which provided provide scholarship and fellowship money for students at Binghamton University. His interests in engineering education have resulted in papers presented at the American Society of Engineering Education conferences and the Frontiers in Education conferences.

visit author page


Mike Elmore Binghamton University

visit author page

Dr. Mike Elmore is director of and a visiting associate professor in the Engineering Design Division in the Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science at Binghamton University—State University of New York at Binghamton, NY. He holds a B.S. in Engineering Education from the University of Vermont in Burlington, VT, a M.S. in Engineering Education from Syracuse University at Syracuse, NY, and a Ph.D. degree from Binghamton University. He has worked for Lockheed Martin, IBM, General Electric, BAE Systems, and Celestica Corporation. He has 25 years of experience in these companies designing military and commercial power electronic circuits and as a systems engineer for airborne and land vehicle electrical systems. He is a license professional engineer.

visit author page

author page

Kyle J. Temkin Binghamton University

Download Paper |


Factors that Influence Engineering Freshman to Choose Their Engineering MajorAs at many universities, our university (medium sized state-supported comprehensive university) has acommon first year for engineering majors. Engineering disciplines within the college of engineeringand sciences include bioengineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, industrial andsystems engineering, and mechanical engineering. Students with initial interest in any of thesedisciplines enter the university as an “undeclared” engineering major, and are formally in the freshmanengineering design division for the first year. Note that the college of engineering and science alsoincludes computer science, but the computer science discipline has a separate first year experience forfreshmen, due to the differing requirements in that field. All the intended engineering majors enroll ina set of common engineering courses (8 credits total over two semesters), which are intended to exposethe students to all options within engineering at our university, and also to develop their writing andspeaking skills in a technical context. Although enrollments vary from year to year, the averageenrollment over the past four years has been about 300 students. In addition to a large common lecturesection, the students have labs and writing/speaking groups in smaller groups of about 30 students persection. The “Explore Engineering” course includes technical lectures, presentations fromdepartmental representatives, and many hands-on activities.Near the end of the spring semester, all students are asked to select their specific major, from thoseavailable. For the past four years, a survey has been given to the students, asking them about thedegree to which each of 11 factors contributed to their ultimate choice of major. Four factors emergedas the most significant. These include: (1) major already chosen before beginning explore engineeringcourse; (2) perceived societal impact of chosen major; (3) personal interests most closely align withchosen major; and (4) perceived job prospects in chosen major. More detailed analysis of theseresults, and trends over the years this survey has been used, will be given in the paper.

Zahorian, S., & Elmore, M., & Temkin, K. J. (2013, June), Factors that Influence Engineering Freshman to Choose Their Engineering Major Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19603

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: © 2013 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