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Implementing a Student-Suggested Course in Engineering Career Development

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Communication and Engineering Careers: Motivating Our Students

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.705.1 - 23.705.16



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Paper Authors


Julie E. Sharp Vanderbilt University

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Dr. Julie E. Sharp, M.A.T., M.A., Ph.D., is Professor of the Practice of Technical Communications in the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering, where she teaches written and oral communication courses in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the General Engineering Division. Her teaching and research interests include job search communication, learning styles, and integrating communication in engineering courses. In 2012, she won an Apex Award for Excellence in Education and Training Writing for her ASEE 2012 Proceedings article, “Behavioral Interview Training in Engineering Classes.” In 2004, she earned the ASEE Southeastern Section's Thomas C. Evans Award for the most outstanding paper pertaining to engineering education. As a consultant, she has edited and written documents and presented workshops for educators, industry, and professional organizations.

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Christopher J Rowe Vanderbilt University

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Dr. Christopher J. Rowe, M.Eng., Ed.D., is associate professor of the Practice of Engineering Management and Director of the Division of General Engineering at Vanderbilt University. He holds degrees in biomedical engineering, management of technology, and higher education leadership and policy. His research and teaching interests in engineering education include first-year engineering pedagogy and problem-based learning. His professional areas of expertise include technical project management and technology strategy. He advises the Dean of Engineering on strategy and is Communications Director for the School of Engineering. He is past-Chair of the First-year Programs Division of ASEE and member of ASEM.

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Implementing a Student-Suggested Course in Engineering Career DevelopmentIn a recent poll of 75 engineering students at a private, highly selective university, conducted by astudent team for an engineering management course project, 67 percent agreed they wouldregister for a course to help them prepare for the job search and career success. As a direct resultof this expressed student interest and the project team’s recommendation, a special topics course,Engineering Career Development, was created and delivered for one semester as a pilot project.This practical course provides engineering students with tools to gain a competitive advantage inreaching their potential in the workforce. The course is designed to help engineering studentsdevelop necessary communication skills and strategies for finding a job and initiating a career.Topics include networking, participating in career fairs, researching prospective employers,writing a resume, crafting an audience-driven cover letter, interviewing, using social mediastrategically, using the career center’s resources effectively, applying professional ethics, andlearning best practices in today's marketplace. The course requires unusual collaboration andcooperation among the instructor, career center staff, and engineering school administrators.Assignments and deliverables are coordinated with the career center’s on-campus recruitingactivities and resources.This paper describes the first semester of the course, its rationale and development, collaborativeefforts, lessons learned, and recommendations for future course delivery. The authors describethe course from the perspectives of the instructor and the division administrator. They analyzestudent participation and post-course questionnaire feedback to determine degree of success andfuture course development. Student response has been even greater than expected; for example,within the first two hours of registration for the fall course, the one section closed and a waitinglist was generated. The authors plan to offer the course in the subsequent semester and furtherdevelop it based on their analysis of the pilot project.

Sharp, J. E., & Rowe, C. J. (2013, June), Implementing a Student-Suggested Course in Engineering Career Development Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19719

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