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The Secret Of Their Success: What Factors Determine The Career Success Of An Aerospace Engineer Trained In The Netherlands?

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Academic Standards & Issues/Concerns & Retention

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1322.1 - 10.1322.9



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Gillian Saunders-Smits

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

Session 3460

The Secret of their Success: What factors determine the career success of an aerospace engineer trained in the Netherlands?

Gillian N. Saunders-Smits

Faculty of Aerospace Engineering Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands

Introduction Although engineers are educated with a vision that they can become successful, very little research is done into how engineers become successful. What is it exactly that makes one engineer more successful than another? And what consequence does that have for the way engineers are educated? This is becoming even more important taking into account the new ABET 2000 criteria1, which state the need for a BSc program that it has a process in place that periodically evaluates its objectives based on the needs of the program’s various constituencies. The constituents named in this criterion can be perceived to consist of various parties including the government, industry and alumni. A good description of the alumni population, their achievements and their employers as well as their opinion on the educational program will help to ensure (re-) accreditation.

This paper reports on the start-up phase of a PhD research at the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands into the success of its aerospace engineering graduates. A list of competencies was compiled based on literature and put to an expert panel of Dutch aerospace engineer employers for comments to see if the same success drivers apply in the Netherlands as they do in the United States.

The career track of an engineer Several sources in American literature, amongst others Landis2, Pinelli3, Covert4 and Spurgeon5, feel there are two or three career tracks for an engineer to follow. It can be expected that there will be a different emphasis on how success is measured between the career tracks. In this research a distinction is made between two career paths an engineering graduate can follow which is displayed in figure 1.

In this the engineering specialist and the scientist are grouped together in one career track as individual contributors as that seems to be the common accepted definition in literature (See for instance Landis2 and Covert4). It might be worthwhile to also keep in mind the definition from

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition. Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Saunders-Smits, G. (2005, June), The Secret Of Their Success: What Factors Determine The Career Success Of An Aerospace Engineer Trained In The Netherlands? Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15571

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