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First-Year Engineering Students Perceptions of Engineering

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Student Division Technical Session 1

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Marigold F. Bays-Muchmore University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Marigold is a Masters student in Industrial Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. She is interested in the identity and culture of young engineers, and focuses research on identifying common experiences and factors that influence how first year engineering students perceive themselves and engineers in general.

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Alexandra Chronopoulou University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Alexandra Chronopoulou is an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the Department of Industrial & Enterprise Systems Engineering. Her main research interests are in the areas of statistical inference for stochastic processes with long memory, stochastic simulation, stochastic modeling and financial engineering. Dr. Chronopoulou received her Master in Computational Finance, and her Ph.D. in Statistics from Purdue University, respectively in 2008 and 2009. Before joining the University of Illinois, she has held a post-doctoral position in INRIA at Nancy (France), and she was an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and at the City College of New York (CUNY).

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Engineering at the university has steadily drawn increasingly larger incoming classes of students. With a significant population and a diverse number of programs, these freshmen will be entering a unique engineering culture. This study sought to understand the perspectives and experiences of the students in regards to their engineering identity as they entered the university in the Fall of 2017. Differences in perceptions among demographics such as gender, ethnicity, and the different engineering majors were also examined.

A survey was administered to 1986 freshman engineers within their first month of school. The survey contained questions pertaining to the students’ perceived understanding of and confidence in engineering, as well as their reasons for pursuing engineering. Common perceptions of engineering qualities and responsibilities were also assessed. Based on survey results with a 23.3% response rate, students across all majors were confident in their ability to succeed, but female students reported lower levels of confidence than male students. The most common reasons students selected for pursuing engineering were their abilities in math and science, followed by having prior experience with engineering. However, female participants selected prior experiences as a reason at a significantly lower level than their male counterparts. Within the various engineering majors and programs themselves, there were differences in satisfaction levels. Students who were not in their first choice major were less likely to agree with being happy in their field or intending to stay in their major. However, overall the participants rated themselves as having a good understanding of engineering and planning to stay within engineering as a realm. Descriptors for engineers that were most commonly selected included ‘Practical’ and ‘Analytical’ while less commonly selected were ‘Artistic’ and ‘Kind’. A brief description of a follow up study is provided.

Bays-Muchmore, M. F., & Chronopoulou, A. (2018, June), First-Year Engineering Students Perceptions of Engineering Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30521

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