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From Defense to Degree: Integrating Military Veterans into Engineering Programs

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

NSF Grantees' Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.654.1 - 25.654.7



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Paper Authors

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David L. Soldan Kansas State University

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Noel N. Schulz Kansas State University

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Don Gruenbacher Kansas State University


Rekha Natarajan Kansas State University

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Rekha Natarajan is an instructor in the Mathematics Department at Kansas State University, coordinating college algebra. She received her B.S. and M.A. in mathematics from Arizona State University, B.S. in secondary education from Kansas State University, and is currently a doctoral student in the Mathematics Department at KSU. Her research area is undergraduate mathematics education.

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Blythe Marlow Vogt Kansas State University

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Blythe Vogt joined the faculty in architectural engineering and construction science and management at Kansas State University in Jan. 2008. She received her B.S.A..E from K-State in 2001 and completed her M.S.A.E. from K-State in 2010 related to curriculum development in architectural engineering and construction science with regards to building information modeling. Vogt is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering with an emphasis in engineering education/outreach under the supervision of Dr. Noel Schulz. During 2001-2008, Vogt was employed full-time with
Affiliated Engineers, Inc., a national engineering consulting firm in Madison, Wis. where she held several roles, including project manager, project engineer, commissioning agent, conference speaker, and business development/marketing liaison. She also collaborated with the University of Wisconsin's Construction Engineering & Management Department as an adjunct faculty, teaching one course each fall semester related to building systems from 2002-2007. Vogt was awarded the 2008 National Electrical Contractors Association Faculty Award for her instruction and mentoring of construction science students in CNS535 – Electrical & Lighting, a course focused on the electrical exposure and education of future construction professionals.

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From Defense to Degree: Integrating Military Veterans into Engineering ProgramsThis paper addresses curricular issues involved in integrating post-9/11 veterans into theengineering workforce. A 2009 NSF Workshop on Enhancing the Post-9/11 VeteransEducational Benefit indicated that new, more generous veterans’ educational benefits create anopportunity to expand the technical workforce while benefitting those who have served ourcountry. The workshop further indicated that the veterans include a diverse and qualified pool offuture talent for the nation’s engineering and science employers.Based on this opportunity to involve veterans in the workforce, researchers have developed aprogram to help integrate veterans into electrical and computer engineering degrees. The initialtechnical focus will be in the renewable energy and energy distribution systems areas, which hasbeen identified as a critical area where there is a large projected shortage of trained technicalpersonnel. A 2008 NSF Workshop on the Future Power Engineering Workforce indicated “aserious need is emerging for more power and energy engineers.” The IEEE Power and EnergySociety has also indicated that “Immediate action must be taken to avoid letting a growingshortage of well-qualified electric power engineers slow progress in meeting critical nationalobjectives.”This paper will focus on the progress made in developing an accelerated track for militaryveterans into bachelor’s degrees in engineering. It is important to have contact with the militaryveteran prior to their arriving on campus to facilitate their transition to an academic program .This allows an initial thorough evaluation of the veterans’ training, experiences, and expertise tobe conducted with the option of granting academic credit where appropriate. An informationbrochure to inform veterans of engineering workforce opportunities prior to separation from themilitary has been developed.Veterans may have a base of knowledge acquired through the technical nature of their serviceexperience. Assigning them to introductory level courses with traditional freshman andsophomore students does not respect their technical expertise. The development of subject basedon-line tutorials is being used to accelerate the veteran’s entry into the math sequence and thecircuits sequence. These tutorials will include videos of laboratory exercises to ensure thatveterans understand the equipment and terminology used in the introductory courses. We havecreated an informal cohort of veterans to gain feedback and build learning communities. Afuture feature of this project is the inclusion of summer industrial internships for participants.Student success in follow-on courses will be the primary evaluation metric. This evaluation willtake place when a significant number of students are in the program. There are many additionalsupport structures that may or may not be available on any given campus. Key components ofthis program include the development of recruitment activities and coordination with campusmilitary veteran support staff and personnel at nearby military installations.

Soldan, D. L., & Schulz, N. N., & Gruenbacher, D., & Natarajan, R., & Vogt, B. M. (2012, June), From Defense to Degree: Integrating Military Veterans into Engineering Programs Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21411

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