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High-Enrollment Mechanical Engineering Programs Meeting the Challenge of Career Advising Through a Seminar Course

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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

Mechanical Engineering Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Rachal E Thomassie Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Rachal Thomassie is a second year master's student in the Interdisciplinary Engineering program at Texas A&M University with an emphasis on engineering education. She has over five years of industry experience in mechanical design and systems engineering and over seven years of experience in academic affairs. She founded two mechanical engineering affiliated student organizations and a departmental Student Ambassador program. She also co-developed an orientation course for first-semester students in the major. She continually looks for ways to enhance student learning, development and career preparedness.

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Kathryn Kirsch Pennsylvania State University Orcid 16x16

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Kathryn is a post-doctoral researcher in the Steady Thermal Aero Research Turbine (START) Laboratory at Penn State University. In addition to her technical research, Kathryn has been active in the Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate Department, working as the undergraduate curriculum advisor and developing content for undergraduate advising courses.

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Eric R Marsh Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Associate Head for Undergraduate Programs and Arthur L Glenn Professor of Engineering Education

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Timothy J. Jacobs Texas A&M University

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Professor in Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University

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Engineering programs are continually being enhanced to include learning outcomes peripheral to the discipline-specific domain knowledge. One such outcome is career advisement, also included in ABET Criteria 1 for students. Ideally, each student would have designated opportunities to discuss his or her subject interests and career aspirations with a faculty member and receive guidance in pursuit of a career area corresponding to their interests and skills. For programs with a significantly high student population (for the purposes of this study, considered to be over 800), this type of individualized career advisement can be challenging to meet with excellence. For two such programs in mechanical engineering, a different approach was taken. Career advisement has been incorporated into a 1 credit hour, semester-long seminar course.

One of the main elements to career advisement is communication of opportunities. This course is well-structured to guide students through an exploration of various industries and job areas available to graduates of mechanical engineering. In addition to beginning a career immediately upon graduation, the option of continued education in graduate school is also presented.

The two institutions take different approaches to the course. Each has additional learning objectives in its respective course, such as lifelong learning, communication skills and career preparedness. This course is required at one institution and elective at the other, partially online at one and in-class only at the other. The aim of the authors is to show that career advisement can be effectively conducted in the structure of a seminar course. The outcomes will be measured through a survey administered to students enrolled in each course.

For institutions with large undergraduate programs, this method of advisement is becoming almost necessary. Utilizing a classroom environment for career advising allows the program to reach a significant portion of the student population at one time (32% in one year at one institution). Including the course as part of the curriculum ensures that each student receives guidance on career matters. Beyond size considerations, however, it is the important feature that such a structure of career advisement ensures mechanical engineering students receive the necessary information of broad career opportunities available to them.

This is a preliminary study to assess the broad impact of curricular-based career advisement in mechanical engineering. This paper provides a background on the importance of including career advisement in a mechanical engineering curriculum, presents the learning outcomes and structure of each seminar course and discusses the results of the student survey.

Thomassie, R. E., & Kirsch, K., & Marsh, E. R., & Jacobs, T. J. (2018, June), High-Enrollment Mechanical Engineering Programs Meeting the Challenge of Career Advising Through a Seminar Course Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30574

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