Asee peer logo

I Have a Ph.D.! Now What? A Program to Prepare Engineering Ph.D.'s and Postdoctoral Fellows for Diverse Career Options

Download Paper |

Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Aligning Graduate Programs with Industrial Needs

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count

16

DOI

10.18260/1-2--32910

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/32910

Download Count

69

Request a correction

Paper Authors

biography

Teresa J. Didiano University of Toronto

visit author page

Teresa Didiano is the Special Programs Coordinator at the Troost Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering at the University of Toronto. She develops and coordinates leadership programs for undergraduate students, graduate students, and engineering professionals. Teresa has an HBSc and MSc from the University of Toronto, and Life Skills Coaching Certification from George Brown College.

visit author page

biography

Lydia Wilkinson University of Toronto

visit author page

Lydia Wilkinson is a lecturer in the Engineering Communication Program at the University of Toronto, where she coordinates communication in Chemical Engineering, and teaches core communication courses at the undergraduate and graduate level. Lydia’s current research investigates interdisciplinary skills transfer with a specific focus on humanities integration for engineers.

visit author page

biography

Jonathan Turner University of Toronto

visit author page

Jonathan Turner is a Career Educator who specializes in working with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. He co-founded a Canadian community of practice for career and professional development practitioners, and as an executive he launched a monthly article series, effected changes to a national survey of graduate and professional students, and has increased the sustainability and longevity of that community.

visit author page

biography

Mark Franklin University of Toronto & OneLifeTools

visit author page

Mark Franklin is the award-winning practice leader of CareerCycles, a career management social enterprise based in Toronto, and co-founder of OneLifeTools. Mark and a team of Associates have enriched the career wellbeing of 4000+ clients individually and in organizations. Mark holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Industrial Engineering, a Master of Education in Counselling Psychology, and a P.Eng. license. In 2015, he received the Stu Conger Award for Leadership in Career Development. In his earlier engineering career, Mark consulted with hundreds of organizations as a technology manager, then management consultant with KPMG. Changing careers, Mark led student services initiatives in two of Canada’s largest universities, now teaches a for-credit career management course at University of Toronto and applies system thinking and engineering problem solving to create scalable, gamified and evidence-based career management tools. Mark hosts the Career Buzz radio show and podcast where he’s interviewed hundreds of guests about insights and turning points in their career stories.

visit author page

biography

Jason H. Anderson University of Toronto

visit author page

Jason Anderson (http://janders.eecg.toronto.edu/) is Professor and Associate Chair, Research, with the Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Toronto, and holds the Jeffrey Skoll Endowed Chair. He joined the FPGA Implementation Tools Group, Xilinx, Inc., San Jose, CA, USA, in 1997, where he was involved in placement, routing, and synthesis. He became a Principal Engineer at Xilinx in 2007 and joined the university in 2008. His research interests are all aspects of tools, architectures, and circuits for FPGAs. He has co-authored over 90 peer-reviewed research publications, 4 book chapters, holds 29 U.S. patents, and was Program Co-Chair for FPL 2016, Program Chair for ACM FPGA 2017, and is General Chair for ACM FPGA 2018. He is Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Advisor of LegUp Computing Inc.

visit author page

biography

Markus Bussmann University of Toronto

visit author page

Dr. Bussmann is Professor and Chair of the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto, and formerly, Vice-Dean, Graduate for the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. In the latter role he was involved with the initial development of the OPTIONS (Opportunities for PhDs: Transitions, Industry Options, Networking and Skills) program for engineering PhDs and post-doctoral fellows at the UofT.

visit author page

biography

Doug Reeve P.Eng. University of Toronto

visit author page

Dr. Reeve is the founding Director of the Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering (ILead) (2010-2018) at the University of Toronto. After a lengthy career as a consulting engineer he made development of personal capability central to his work with engineering students, undergraduate and graduate. In 2002 he established Leaders of Tomorrow, a student leadership development program that led to the establishment of ILead in 2010. In 2017, he was part of the team that developed the OPTIONS Program (Opportunities for PhDs: Transitions, Industry Options, Networking and Skills) for engineering PhD students interested in careers outside the academy. He is a Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry.

visit author page

biography

Julie Audet P.Eng. University of Toronto Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-5599-6074

visit author page

Professor Audet is the Vice-Dean Graduate Studies in the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering of the University of Toronto (2017- ). She served as the Associate Director, Graduate Studies for the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) from 2012 to 2017. In recent years, Dr. Audet has worked on the development of a new graduate program Master’s of Engineering in Biomedical Engineering, at IBBME that is focused on biomedical devices. The new M.Eng is now also offered to MD students in the Faculty of Medicine. This program fulfills an unmet need in expertise in biomedical device development in the Canadian Industry and has attracted students across multiple Faculties and Universities. Dr. Audet has contributed to the development of Graduate Supervision Guidelines in the School of Graduate Studies. Professor Audet has been an instructor and coordinator of several undergraduate and graduate courses covering Statistical Design of Experiments for Bioprocess Optimization, Biostatistics and Statistical discovery techniques for biomedical researchers, all of which are closely related to her research interests, in particular the development of biological search algorithms and their applications in stem and progenitor cell manufacturing processes.

visit author page

Download Paper |

Abstract

Traditional engineering doctoral programs prepare students for academic work; however, several national reports have highlighted that graduates pursue a wide range of career paths [1, 2]. In Canada and the United States, fewer than 20% of engineering PhDs are employed in tenure-track positions, and in comparison to PhDs from other fields, engineering PhDs are more likely to be employed outside the academy [1, 3]. Doctoral programs provide a transferable skillset that is valuable for many careers, for example, communication, project management, and innovative thinking [4]. Despite this, many PhDs struggle to transition from school to the workforce. This has prompted a number of calls to broaden graduate curriculum to include career development and professional skills training for diverse career options [5, 6]. This paper presents an example of a high intensity, professional preparation initiative, The OPTIONS Program (Opportunities for PhDs: Transitions, Industry Options, Networking and Skills) at the University of Toronto, for PhDs and post-doctoral fellows. In particular, it discusses the program’s development, evaluation, findings, and recommendations.

The OPTIONS Program is a non-credit, cohort program for 30 PhDs and post-doctoral fellows. Facilitated by faculty and professional development educators, the program consists of weekly two-hour sessions that take place over eleven weeks. The sessions cover three learning outcomes: 1) reflect on strengths, desires, interests, and personal qualities to formulate an individual development plan; 2) communicate skills and experiences using job search strategies to highlight expertise and personal value; and 3) apply networking tools and labour market resources to identify and clarify career aspirations. In addition to the in-session portion, participants have access to an individual development plan, one-on-one meeting with a professor and career coach, and personalized feedback on their job application material. To foster peer-to-peer support, participants are placed into teams that provide feedback on job application material, and a forum to discuss content and ideas from sessions. Program evaluations show that The OPTIONS Program foster participants who are more confident and optimistic about their future. The most frequently identified program strengths include: learning practical skills for the job search (e.g., resumé writing, interview skills), having structured time for career exploration, joining a community of like-minded individuals, and an opportunity for self-reflection. Participants favoured activities that involved feedback and have a practical, immediate benefit such as resumé writing, informational interviews, and one-on-ones with a professor and career coach.

Our findings suggests that The OPTIONS Program provides participants with the time and place to self-reflect, develop a career exploration plan, and refine their job search skills. Faculty and professional development educators should look for ways to incorporate training that allows students to reflect on and translate their skills and experiences to make well-informed career decisions, and effectively position themselves to pursue non-academic careers.

References: [1] J. Edge and D. Munro, Inside and Outside the Academy: Valuing and Preparing PhDs for Careers. Ottawa, The Conference Board of Canada, 2015. pp. 22, 54-66. [2] National Science Foundation, “Survey of Doctorate Recipients,” National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, 2015. [Online]. Available: https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/srvydoctoratework/ - tabs-1 [Accessed: Oct 9, 2018]. [3] M. Fiegener, “Number of Doctorates Awarded Continue to Grow in 2009: Indicators of Employment Outcomes Mixed,” National Science Foundation, NSF 11-305, Nov 2010. [Online]. Available: https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/infbrief/nsf11305/ [Accessed: Oct 9, 2018]. [4] M. Sinche, R. L. Layton, P. D. Brandt, A. B. O’Connell, J. D. Hall, A. M. Freeman, J. R. Harrell, J. G. Cook, and P. J. Brennwald, “An evidence-based evaluation of transferrable skills and job satisfaction for science PhDs,” Plos One, vol. 12, no. 9, pp. 1-16, Sept. 2017. [5] D. Denecke, K. Feaster, and K. Stone, Professional Development: Shaping Effective Programs for STEM Graduate Students, Washington, DC: Council of Graduate Schools, 2017. [6] National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Graduate STEM Education in the 21st Century, Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2018.

Didiano, T. J., & Wilkinson, L., & Turner, J., & Franklin, M., & Anderson, J. H., & Bussmann, M., & Reeve, D., & Audet, J. (2019, June), I Have a Ph.D.! Now What? A Program to Prepare Engineering Ph.D.'s and Postdoctoral Fellows for Diverse Career Options Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32910

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: © 2019 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