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New Engineers' First Three Months: A Study of the Transition from Capstone Design Courses to Workplaces

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

The BEST InDEED

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

23

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/30838

Download Count

53

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Paper Authors

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Chris Gewirtz Virginia Tech

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Chris Gewirtz is PhD student in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. His research interests revolve around how culture, history and identity influence assumptions made by engineers in their design practice, and how to change assumptions to form innovative and socially conscious engineers. He is particularly interested in humanitarian engineering design, where many traditional engineering assumptions fall apart.

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Daria A. Kotys-Schwartz University of Colorado, Boulder

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Daria Kotys-Schwartz is the Director of the Idea Forge—a flexible, cross-disciplinary design space at University of Colorado Boulder. She is also the Design Center Colorado Director of Undergraduate Programs and a Senior Instructor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. She received B.S. and M.S degrees in mechanical engineering 
from The Ohio State University and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder. Kotys-Schwartz has focused her research in engineering student learning, retention, and student identity development within the context of engineering design. She is currently investigating the impact of cultural norms in an engineering classroom context, performing comparative studies between engineering education and professional design practices, examining holistic approaches to student retention, and exploring informal learning in engineering education.

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Daniel Knight University of Colorado, Boulder

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Daniel W. Knight is the Program Assessment and Research Associate at Design Center (DC) Colorado in CU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering at the College of Engineering and Applied Science. He holds a B.A. in psychology from Louisiana State University, an M.S. degree in industrial/organizational psychology and a Ph.D. degree in education, both from the University of Tennessee. Dr. Knight’s research interests are in the areas of retention, program evaluation and teamwork practices in engineering education. His current duties include assessment, team development and education research for DC Colorado's hands-on initiatives.

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Marie C. Paretti Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-2202-6928

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Marie C. Paretti is a Professor of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech, where she co-directs the Virginia Tech Engineering Communications Center (VTECC). Her research focuses on communication in engineering design, interdisciplinary communication and collaboration, design education, and gender in engineering. She was awarded a CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation to study expert teaching in capstone design courses, and is co-PI on numerous NSF grants exploring communication, design, and identity in engineering. Drawing on theories of situated learning and identity development, her work includes studies on the teaching and learning of communication, effective teaching practices in design education, the effects of differing design pedagogies on retention and motivation, the dynamics of cross-disciplinary collaboration in both academic and industry design environments, and gender and identity in engineering.

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Sidharth Arunkumar

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Sidharth Arunkumar is pursuing his Masters in Mechanical Engineering at New Mexico Tech. His key area of interest is solid mechanics, and his research involves the study of conductive layers on wind turbine blades. He has worked on aircraft internal structures and Turbine casings for MNC clients as a Design Engineer, prior to his Masters at New Mexico Tech. He has also been involved as a research assistant, in the development of composite laminates for space applications. He is currently assisting research efforts to study students' transition from School to Work.

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Julie Dyke Ford New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

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Dr. Julie Ford is Professor of Technical Communication (housed in the Mechanical Engineering department) at New Mexico Tech where she coordinates and teaches in the junior/senior design clinic as well as teaches graduate-level engineering communication courses. Her research involves engineering communication, technical communication pedagogy, and knowledge transfer. She has published and presented widely including work in the Journal of Engineering Education, the Journal of STEM Education: Innovations and Research, IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, the Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, Technical Communication and Technical Communication Quarterly. Julie has a PhD in Rhetoric and Professional Communication from New Mexico State University, an MA in English with Technical Writing Emphasis from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and a BA in English from Elon University.

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Susannah Howe Smith College

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Susannah Howe, Ph.D. is the Design Clinic Director in the Picker Engineering Program at Smith College, where she coordinates and teaches the capstone engineering design course. Her current research focuses on innovations in engineering design education, particularly at the capstone level. She is invested in building the capstone design community; she is a leader in the biannual Capstone Design Conferences and the Capstone Design Hub initiative. She is also involved with efforts to foster design learning in middle school students and to support entrepreneurship at primarily undergraduate institutions. Her background is in civil engineering with a focus on structural materials. She holds a B.S.E. degree from Princeton, and M.Eng. and Ph.D. degrees from Cornell.

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Laura Mae Rosenbauer Smith College

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Laura Rosenbauer is an engineering major and landscape studies minor at Smith College. She is a research assistant on the national and international capstone survey efforts and the development of CDHub 2.0. She is also assisting with a new research collaboration to study the transition from capstone design to work. She was a summer intern at the Urban Water Innovation Network, where she studied the thermodynamic and hydrologic properties of pavements. She is interested in a career in civil engineering.

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Nicholas Emory Alvarez New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

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Jessica Deters Virginia Tech

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Jessica Deters is a PhD student at Virginia Tech in the Department of Engineering Education. She holds a B.S. in Applied Mathematics & Statistics and a minor in the McBride Honors Program in Public Affairs from the Colorado School of Mines. Jessica is engaging in projects that emphasize the sociotechnical nature of engineering with a focus on social justice and diversity. She aims to educate the next generation of engineers to understand and value the social, political, economic, environmental, and human implications of their designs.

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Cristian Hernandez

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Abstract

In preparing engineering students for the workplace, capstone classes provide unique opportunities for students to develop their professional identities and learn critical skills such as engineering design, teamwork, and self-directed learning (Lutz & Paretti). But while existing research explores what and how students learn within these courses, we know much less about how capstone courses affect students’ transitions into the workplace.

To address this gap, we are following 62 new graduates across 4 institutions during the participants’ first 12 weeks of work. Participants were drawn from 3 mechanical engineering programs and one general engineering program. Women were intentionally oversampled in the study, with 29 participants identifying as female. Weekly surveys were used to collect quantitative data on what types of workplace activities participants engaged in (e.g., team meetings, project budgeting, CAD modeling, engineering calculations) and qualitative data on what challenges they experience in their early work experience.

In this paper, we present a descriptive analysis of the data to identify patterns across participants. Preliminary analysis of the quantitative data suggests that the most common activities for our participants were team meetings and project planning (mentioned by >70% of participants) compared to formal presentations and project budgeting (mentioned by <30% of participants). Preliminary analysis of the qualitative data suggests that participants’ most challenging experiences clustered into two dominant groups: 1) self-directed learning, and 2) teamwork and communication.

The results are intended to inform both capstone faculty and industry to identify areas of strength within current practices and areas for improvement in course design and structure and/or in industry onboarding practices.

Gewirtz, C., & Kotys-Schwartz, D. A., & Knight, D., & Paretti, M. C., & Arunkumar, S., & Ford, J. D., & Howe, S., & Rosenbauer, L. M., & Alvarez, N. E., & Deters, J., & Hernandez, C. (2018, June), New Engineers' First Three Months: A Study of the Transition from Capstone Design Courses to Workplaces Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30838

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