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The Industry Scholars Mentorship Program: a Professional Industry Connection Experience for Engineering Undergraduates

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

College-Industry Partnerships Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

College Industry Partnerships

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Paper Authors


Breanne Przestrzelski University of San Diego

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Bre Przestrzelski, PhD, is a post-doctoral research associate in the General Engineering department in the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, where she innovatively integrates social justice, humanitarian advancement, and peace into the traditional engineering canon.

Before joining USD in August 2017, Bre spent 9 years at Clemson University, where she was a three-time graduate of the bioengineering program (BS, MS, and PhD), founder of The Design & Entrepreneurship Network (DEN), and Division I rower. In her spare time, Bre teaches design thinking workshops for higher education faculty/administrators at the Stanford d.School as a University Innovation Fellow, coaches a global community of learners through IDEO U, and fails miserably at cooking.

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Chell A. Roberts University of San Diego

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Chell A. Roberts is the founding dean of the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering at the University of San Diego. He assumed his duties in July of 2013. He was also recently appointed as the Associate Provost of Professional and Continuing Education.

As an engineering dean at USD, Dr. Roberts has led the development of a new school of engineering, developing innovative engineering space, growing a world class faculty, and creating a base of industry and community partners. He also led a team to win a $2 Million NSF Grant to revolutionize engineering education. The award focuses on creating “Changemaking Engineers” and seeks to transform the engineering mindset to infuse sustainability, social justice, peace, and humanitarian practices in the context of and professional skills of engineering.

Before joining USD, Roberts served as the Executive Dean of the College of Technology and Innovation at Arizona State University. While at Arizona State University, Dr. Roberts also had the opportunity to design an engineering program from a clean slate based on the study of best models of undergraduate engineering programs in the world.

Dr. Roberts received a PhD in Industrial Engineering from Virginia Tech, an MS Industrial Engineering degree and BA Mathematics degree from the University of Utah.

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Current industry demands of engineering graduates are changing, and higher education is not producing students prepared for these careers in industry. Through an NSF-funded Revolutionizing Engineering Departments grant, the disclosed university and its industry partners infuse students with professional skills early in their undergraduate experience to uproot this trend.

In Spring 2017, a year-long industry immersion program for top first- and second-year engineering undergraduates was driven into formation by the industry advisory board of the engineering school. This program entitled “The Industry Scholars Program” is in its second year and is still providing professional workshops, industry site visits, and internships for the students selected for the program. The students that engaged in the first year of the immersion program are among those who have opted in for a new pilot program that builds on their experiences in the immersion program. This new program is called The Industry Scholars Mentorship Program.

This pilot-run of the mentorship program is similarly driven by the guidance of the industry advisory board of the school and exemplifies how industry partnerships in higher education are vital to increased preparedness of engineering graduates. This program seeks to provide continued industry mentorship for graduated industry Scholars and foster organic one-on-one mentorship relationships between industry and students. The Industry Scholars Mentorship Program has been launched as of Fall 2018 and gives 13 third- and fourth-year students the opportunity to learn alongside a strategically matched industry mentor. This paper introduces the structure of the program, the developed programmatic elements, mentorship results, lessons learned from program directors, and initial feedback from participating students and industry mentors.

The Industry Scholars Mentorship Program could be a model for industry partners seeking to prepare and secure students equipped with both professional and technical skills. By the conclusion of Spring 2019, the first cohort of the mentorship program will be complete and final outcomes will be evaluated.

Przestrzelski, B., & Roberts, C. A. (2019, June), The Industry Scholars Mentorship Program: a Professional Industry Connection Experience for Engineering Undergraduates Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33401

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