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The Role Of Real World Experience In A Web Based Engineering Major Selection Model

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.643.1 - 5.643.8

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Paper Authors

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Wesley P. Lipschultz

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Jean Landa Pytel

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Jayne Klenner-Moore

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1353

The Role of Real-World Experience in a Web-Based Engineering Major Selection Model

Jean Landa Pytel, Jayne Klenner-Moore, Wesley Lipschultz The Pennsylvania State University


Many students who enter a College of Engineering are uncertain of what their major should be or that the major they have selected is the right one for them. At Penn State, the College of Engineering has designed a web-based program to help students through the process of selecting an appropriate major from the ones offered by the College. The program is based on a decision- making model that requires students to identify their strengths and interests and match these with the interests and skills required of specific majors. Realistic and accurate information about the majors was therefore crucial to the construction of this model. Examples of job scenarios, typical days, required skills, and types of problems encountered were provided by practicing engineers and then used as building blocks in the development of the program. This paper will focus on the role that the information obtained from practicing engineers played in the development of the program.

I. Introduction

Instruments have been designed for students who are beginning the path of self-exploration and career choice to help them distinguish among broad categories of majors or careers. Instruments such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, The Birkman Method, Campbell Interest and Skill Survey (CISS) ask students to answer questions about what they like to do, where they want to live, what is important to them, etc. These may be starting points, but the difficulty is that students that have selected to enroll in the College of Engineering have many similar skill sets and attributes. One of the most common reasons given by students for being in engineering is: "My high school guidance counselor said that I would be good in engineering because I was good in math and science". Such factors may separate the engineers from accountants, but they do not differentiate among the engineering majors.

Little information is available to help differentiate one type of engineer from another. Since different types of engineers share many of the same traits, it became necessary to create a discovery program that enabled students to explore different fields of engineering and find out more about themselves so that they could find a possible match. Since differentiating among the majors was a significant problem, many resources were used.

Prior to the development of the web-based model called Engineering Destinations, students followed a more traditional path in the selection of a major. This path began with students being directed to information and discussion meetings with faculty and current students in specific

Lipschultz, W. P., & Pytel, J. L., & Klenner-Moore, J. (2000, June), The Role Of Real World Experience In A Web Based Engineering Major Selection Model Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri.

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