Asee peer logo

"OMG! That's What an Engineer Does?": Freshmen Developing a Personal Identity as an Engineer

Download Paper |


2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

First-year Programs Poster Session

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.16.1 - 25.16.11



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Stephen Rippon Arizona State University

visit author page

Steve Rippon is the Assistant Dean of Student Services in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. In this capacity, he oversees the Engineering Schools’ K-12 outreach, undergraduate student recruitment, undergraduate engagement programs, and the Engineering Career Center.

visit author page

author page

James Collofello Arizona State University

author page

Robin R. Hammond Arizona State University

Download Paper |


“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. 10.18260/1-2--20772

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: © 2012 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