San Antonio, Texas
June 10, 2012
June 10, 2012
June 13, 2012
25.16.1 - 25.16.11
“OMG! That’s What an Engineer Does?”: Freshmen Developing a Personal Identity as an EngineerAbstractFreshman retention is a top priority in nearly all engineering schools. Increased retentionoptimizes new-student recruitment dollars, decreases students’ time to graduation, impactsschool rankings, and helps to meet industry’s increasing demand for engineers. Most researchersand experts in the field agree on a number of basic tenants of retaining engineering freshmen.Topmost are the tenants of creating community amongst freshmen, bonding freshmen withreturning students, creating opportunities for meaningful interaction between freshmen andfaculty both in and outside of the classroom, helping freshmen understand and internalize thevision and mission of the school, and helping freshmen develop a personal identify as anEngineer. This paper will focus on the last tenant.Most engineering programs incorporate career exploration as one of the topics in theirIntroduction to Engineering course or a separate course or seminar. This Introduction toEngineering course is typically taught as either a discipline-specific course or a general courseopen to all engineering majors. In both cases the content and delivery of the engineering careerexploration topic is heavily influenced by the faculty member teaching the class. In ourengineering program, there are program-specific Introduction to Engineering courses, anddiscussion of career exploration had been inconsistent, at best.In the fall of 2010, by piloting an Engineering Career Exploration event, our engineering schoolmade a commitment to help our freshmen develop a personal identity with their chosen degreeprograms and/or to help them explore other engineering degrees. Our Engineering CareerCenter—already heavily engaged in career services for our students with very successful careerfairs, career development programming, and strong industry relations—engaged our freshmanstudents in the Engineering Career Exploration event which introduced them to industry partnersand alumni in a fair-type atmosphere. The Engineering Career Center had invited our 1,100engineering freshman to attend that pilot Career Exploration Event to provide context to theentry-level courses that they were enrolled in. As pilots are meant to do, our 2010 inauguralevent, though a tremendous success, taught us many lessons for planning the event for fall 2011.This paper defines the rationale for conducting the Freshman Career Exploration Event anddiscusses how we implemented the lessons learned from our pilot event. In doing so, the paperalso inspects the desired learning outcomes that governed the redesign of the event and detailshow the Engineering Career Center partnered with Introduction to Engineering faculty todevelop a three-pronged curriculum to create significant impact on our engineering freshmen.The logistics of the event, including strategies for recruiting company participation, are alsodiscussed. The paper also analyzes the feedback received from students, faculty, and industrypartners and how that feedback informed the lessons learned from this second annual event.
Rippon, S., & Collofello, J., & Hammond, R. R. (2012, June), "OMG! That's What an Engineer Does?": Freshmen Developing a Personal Identity as an Engineer Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/20772
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