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To Infinity and Beyond: Boosting URM Students’ Career Trajectories Through Professional Experiences

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

College Industry Partnerships Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

College Industry Partnerships

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Fethiye Ozis P.E. Northern Arizona University

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Dr. Fethiye “Faith” Ozis is a senior lecturer in the civil and environmental engineering department at Northern Arizona University. Dr. Ozis holds a B.S. in environmental engineering from the Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey and a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. She is a licensed Professional Engineer, Environmental, in Arizona.
Dr. Ozis enjoys every dimension of being an engineering educator. She conducts research related to engineering classrooms and innovative pedagogical strategies. Her own intersectionality led to her passion in promoting and researching pathways into STEM especially for underrepresented minority groups.

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Kyle Nathan Winfree Northern Arizona University

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Dr. Winfree is the Associate Director for Undergraduate Programs in the School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems as Northern Arizona University. His research focuses on wearable technologies as applied to health assessment and rehabilitation. He teaches in Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, and Informatics.

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Elizabeth Glass Northern Arizona University

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Elizabeth has been engaged with career development programming for STEM majors as well as at NAU since 2012. Before that, her own career path has been dotted with many exciting and rewarding ventures, some of which include 7 years as a high school science teacher (2 of which were at an international school in Mongolia), and 6 years in logistics and other science support for NSF grantees in the Antarctic.

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It is hard to deny the importance of experiential learning through internships in engineering education. Likewise, students may also benefit from professional experiences that are not traditional internships. From shadowing, to full-blown hands-on internships, experiential learning provides students with the ability to see the theory beyond classrooms, to learn to efficiently practice their art, develop transferable skills, and add further value to their academic career. Engineering educators, and engineering industry leaders, have long recognized the value of and the need for “practice ready” graduates. Today, as the world grapples with the work-from-home and social distancing guidelines necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19; we are in need of “practice ready” graduates more than ever before. The degree to which engineering graduates are prepared to perform on the job can be further improved by establishing strong and effective college-industry partnerships that develop meaningful and diverse professional experiences. The value of these experiences, resultant of strong college-industry partnerships, include but are not limited to: refining and expanding students’ professional identity, practice readiness, and improving resilience. In this paper, we considered professional experiences from the students’ perspective. The data were collected by conducting an online survey of all engineering students in the XX College of Engineering. The survey was scoped to identify the plethora of current experiences of students, explore related major duties and responsibilities, the types of support mechanisms provided to them, and self reported holistic competencies. This paper investigated to what extent these experiences shaped students’ professional identities, practice readiness, and motivated them to persevere through their studies. In addition, we gained knowledge on how network engagement can be utilized to continuously improve engineering education to strengthen the competence of participating students. The findings of this work close-the-loop, and can be utilized to improve the activities of engineering career development offices across the world.

Ozis, F., & Winfree, K. N., & Glass, E. (2021, July), To Infinity and Beyond: Boosting URM Students’ Career Trajectories Through Professional Experiences Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37913

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