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Preparing the Engineer of 2020: Analysis of Alumni Data

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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

Before and After: Matriculants and Alumni

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1062.1 - 25.1062.22



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Paper Authors


Irene B. Mena Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Irene B. Mena has a B.S. and M.S. in industrial engineering, and a Ph.D. in engineering education. Her research interests include first-year engineering and graduate student professional development.

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Sarah E. Zappe Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Sarah Zappe is the Director of Assessment and Instructional Support in the College of Engineering at Penn State University. In this role, she provides support to faculty in trying innovative ideas in the classroom. Her background is in educational psychology with an emphasis in applied testing and measurement. Her current research interests include integrating creativity into the engineering curriculum, development instruments to measure the engineering professional skills, and using qualitative data to enhance response process validity of tests and instruments.

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Thomas A. Litzinger Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Preparing the Engineer of 2020: Analysis of Alumni DataThe College of Engineering at a large mid-Atlantic University aspires to educate engineers of2020: engineers who are innovative, ethical, and good communicators, and have the skills towork globally and in multidisciplinary teams. For evaluation purposes, the Universityperiodically sends out surveys in which engineering alumni are asked about how well-preparedthey perceive themselves to be for their post-graduation employment. Using the results from the2010 version of this survey, this study seeks to answer the following questions: (1) What arealumni’s perceptions of their preparedness in these areas: ethics, innovation, communication,project management, global and international work, and multidisciplinary teamwork? (2) Inwhat ways do these perceptions differ by departments? and (3) Can groups, or clusters, beidentified from the survey results?An exploratory cluster analysis was performed on survey data from 799 engineering alumni.The cluster analysis identified three groups: (1) Group A: the well-prepared engineers. Theseparticipants perceived themselves to be very prepared for ethics, multidisciplinary teamwork,project management, innovation, and communication, and somewhat prepared for global work.(2) Group B: the moderately prepared engineers who communicate well. These participantsperceived themselves to be very prepared in communication, and somewhat prepared in ethics,global work, multidisciplinary teamwork, project management, and innovation, and (3) Group C:the moderately prepared engineers. These participants perceived themselves to be somewhatprepared in ethics, project management, innovation, and communication, and not prepared forglobal work or multidisciplinary teamwork. The results indicated differences by departments,illustrated by the different cluster patterns across departments.In this paper, additional emphasis will be placed on Group A, the well-prepared engineers.Fifteen alumni classified as being in the well-prepared group participated in one thirty-minutetelephone interview in which they described the undergraduate engineering experiences thathelped prepare them for these skills. Preliminary results from these interviews are presented inthis paper.The methods described in this paper can be used by universities and departments interested inconducting program evaluations. The preliminary results presented in this paper willdemonstrate some of the experiences that have and have not been effective in the process ofpreparing engineers of 2020, with the goal of propagating these effective experiences acrossdepartments.

Mena, I. B., & Zappe, S. E., & Litzinger, T. A. (2012, June), Preparing the Engineer of 2020: Analysis of Alumni Data Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21819

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