Asee peer logo

Intrinsic And Extrinsic Motivators To Study Industrial Engineering: A Focus Group Approach

Download Paper |


2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

IE Program Design I

Tagged Division

Industrial Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.958.1 - 12.958.15



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Manuel Morales University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez

visit author page

Manuel Morales is a third year student of industrial engineering at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. Manuel is participating in an undergraduate research opportunities program focused on engineering education issues. Manuel owns a recording studio company in San Juan, Puerto Rico and is treasurer of the student chapter of INFORMS at the UPRM.

visit author page


Alexandra Medina-Borja University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez

visit author page

Dr. Alexandra Medina-Borja is an assistant professor at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez and Director of the International Service Systems Engineering Lab. Alexandra holds a Masters and Ph.D. degrees from Virginia Tech in Industrial and Systems Engineering and a BS in Production of Materials Engineering from the Federal University of Sao Carlos, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her research interests are systems thinking, system dynamics, service operations, performance measurement using DEA, evaluating success factors in engineering and understanding the cognitive processes that occur during their acquisition.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivators to Study Industrial Engineering: A Focus Group Approach Abstract

The literature suggests that students with intrinsic motivators to enroll in engineering programs are more likely to succeed that those that present extrinsic motivators alone. Hence, salary ambitions, perception of prestige, and family pressures to be an "engineer" are far less powerful to push a student to finish their coursework in engineering than motivators such as liking math and science, being good with numbers, loving design or having a powerful role model who is an Engineer or a close professor mentoring.

Moreover, differences in cognitive preferences are likely to play a role in the retention of these generation Y students. Those who desert engineering are likely to be stronger in verbal abilities than their staying counterparts. But their lack of ability to concentrate for long hours without multi-sensory stimuli is perhaps the most challenging characteristic of this generation.

We discuss the results of a comprehensive focus group study being undertaken at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez among Industrial Engineering students from the freshmen to the fifth plus year. We concluded that a lot of attrition in Industrial Engineering education comes from a misconception of the IE field in general and of the effort required in engineering in particular and therefore, we also explored the misconceptions or mistakes in their understanding of the career choice they made and suggest additional areas which are open to further study.

Keywords: Industrial Engineering, intrinsic motivators, extrinsic motivators, misconceptions, career choices

I. Introduction

Through the years many researchers have focused mainly in understanding the students, Kierkegaard 1 believed that to be a good teacher, you must learn from the student, identify with him or her and thus gain a better understanding of how he or she learns. With this knowledge one is able to channel the material in a better way so that the student understands it better. In reality we believe that the students tend to be worlds apart from each other, each having their own personal motivators, perceptions, learning capabilities and willingness to do so.

While the inclination towards engineering is a current issue of importance, so is retention. Prior studies have determined that in the United States it is difficult to attract students to engineering and once they are in, it is also difficult to retain them in the program. In Puerto Rico, the recruitment process is not a problem; many students are quickly informed of the prestige that the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus, has in the island. Those students, who are interested in the engineering field, find themselves applying to our university. In contrast, attrition and retention of admitted students is becoming quite a problem. Being a rigorous five year program, the Industrial Engineering (IE) department at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM) has begun to experience more difficulty than other engineering departments

Morales, M., & Medina-Borja, A. (2007, June), Intrinsic And Extrinsic Motivators To Study Industrial Engineering: A Focus Group Approach Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--3049

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: © 2007 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