June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
New Engineering Educators
Mid-Career Change: Benefits and challenges of leaving industry for academia By Shannon L. Isovitsch Parks, PE, PhD, and Laura J. Dietz, PhD
Typically, a career in academia begins immediately after graduate school or after retirement from a long career in industry. Transitioning from industry to academia at a mid-career point is often challenging because potential faculty members have not had the opportunity to publish, or develop an independent program of research. However, as many colleges are expanding their STEM programs and offering more applied degrees in the engineering sciences there are new opportunities for recruiting faculty members with industry experience who can teach and train a new generation of engineers. This is particularly true for faculty appointments at teaching focused, rather than research-based institutions of higher learning.
This paper presents a case study of a new tenure-track engineering faculty member joining academia after almost 20 years working in a combination of consulting, non-profit, and manufacturing industries. Several aspects of this mid-career change will be discussed, including the benefits of leveraging industry experience to enhance the quality of the material presented to students in the college classroom and facilitating collaboration between college students and local industry as a part of coursework. Student satisfaction measures of the class and the importance they place on new faculty members having industry experience will be collected, analyzed, and presented. Challenges such as being the only female faculty member in the department, with only 1 female student (4%) in the classes taught the first semester; as well as adjusting to a new work-life balance, with a 90-mile commute and a child starting day-care, will be discussed. Methods employed by the department and other faculty members that helped with the transition, such as a reduced teaching load the first semester, and a faculty discount at local lodging are included.
Parks, S. L. I., & Dietz, L. J. (2017, June), Mid-Career Change: Benefits and challenges of leaving industry for academia Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28666
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: © 2017 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