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Investigating the Experiences of Military Professionals who Return to Engineering Graduate School

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

NSF Grantees: Diversity 3

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Diane L. Peters Kettering University

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Dr. Peters is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Kettering University.

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Elizabeth Gross Sam Houston State University Orcid 16x16

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Elizabeth A. Gross MLIS, PhD is currently assistant professor of Library Science and Technology at Sam Houston State University and engineering education researcher. She achieved her doctoral degree in learning design and technology from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Her research interests include engineering education in general and the use of augmented reality to teach engineering concepts.

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Those graduate students known as returners, who have a gap of at least five years between their undergraduate degree conferral and their return to school for a graduate degree, have a wide variety of different experiences. While many of them spend those gap years in employment at an industrial employer, some of them serve in the military in various capacities. As military experience is different from working at an industrial employer, it can be hypothesized that these returners will be different in their outlook, skills, or approach to learning. In this study, the differences between military returners and returners from industry are examined. Twenty returners were interviewed, of whom over 25% had served in or worked directly for the military. The interview protocol covered the participants’ decision-making process, challenges they experienced in the program, and whether and how their past experiences interacted with or had an influence on their education. The transcripts of these interviews are analyzed, and the two groups are compared, with key differences and similarities, such as their approach to leadership, noted. In addition, the findings from this analysis are compared to military personnel entering an undergraduate program, as reported in the literature.

Peters, D. L., & Gross, E. (2020, June), Investigating the Experiences of Military Professionals who Return to Engineering Graduate School Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34880

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