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Transitioning Students to the Workplace in an Academic Setting

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Focus on Capstone Experiences in the Chemical Engineering Curriculum

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1551.1 - 22.1551.15



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Paper Authors


Michael Senra Lafayette College

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Michael Senra is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Lafayette College. He is a graduate of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. His research related to gaining a better understanding of the fundamental characteristics of waxes crystallizing in subsea oil pipelines. While at Michigan, he was involved in the Engineering Graduate Student Mentor program and was involved in a number of courses dealing with both undergraduate and graduate students in a variety of majors. He received his bachelor's degree from Cornell University.

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Scott Fogler University of Michigan

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Vennema Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering

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Transitioning Students to the Workplace in an Academic Setting Michael Senra and H. Scott Fogler Students are given the opportunity to learn the essentials of chemical engineering and tobegin to develop their closed ended case based problem-solving skills, writing abilities and oralpresentation skills. However, many problems facing students in classroom settings are limited inscope, an issue magnified by the dramatic shift and broadening of scope seen in the jobexpectations of chemical engineers over the past 30 years This shift has required chemicalengineers to be integrated with a large number of different fields such as materials science,electrical engineering, biology, chemistry, physics and business. This integration has made itcrucial for chemical engineers to be capable of communicating effectively in multidisciplinaryteams. Therefore, it is advantageous for future engineers to be able to foster and develop theircreative and critical thinking skills and to have an opportunity to work with different mindsetsand skill sets on complex, real-world problems. Students absorb a vast skill set from work completed both in academia and from anyexternal experiences such as an internship or a co-op. However, these experiences typically donot expose students to a litany of issues that they will face once they enter the workforce. Typicalquestions that an employed young engineer can face include: How should I invest my money?What issues will I face now that my work has sent me to a foreign country? How do I negotiateand when is it acceptable to negotiate? How do I develop my own company? Although anacademic course is unable to address all of these issues in an in-depth manner, it is crucial forstudents to be aware of these and other non-technical issues as they develop as both engineersand people. To address these voids in student training, a 3 credit hour course was created to addresssome of these aforementioned issues. Students were introduced to a problem solving heuristicderived from the McMaster Five-Point Strategy and Kepner-Tregoe analysis along with skillssuch as negotiation, financial planning and entrepreneurship. Using the concepts and skillsdiscussed in classes, students worked in interdisciplinary teams to assess problems seen at aparticular company or organization, generate solutions, evaluate the solutions and develop meansof implementing the optimal solution. Student feedback for the course has been generallypositive for the course and they comment on the utility of the concepts discussed in the classboth in job interviews and in their lives as engineers.

Senra, M., & Fogler, S. (2011, June), Transitioning Students to the Workplace in an Academic Setting Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18371

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