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Using Career Pathways to Assimilate High School Students into the Engineering Profession

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering Division: Addressing the NGSS: Supporting K12 Teachers in Engineering Pedagogy, Engineering Science, Careers, and Technical Pathways

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Pre-College Engineering Education Division

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Paper Authors


S. Jimmy Gandhi California State University - Northridge

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Dr. S. Jimmy Gandhi is an assistant professor at California State University, Northridge. His research interests and the courses he teaches includes Quality Management, Lean Manufacturing, Innovation & Entrepreneurship,Sustainability as well as research in the field of Engineering Education. He has over 30 conference and journal publications and has brought in over $500K in research grants to The California State University, Northridge.

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Vidya K Nandikolla California State University - Northridge

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Dr. Nandikolla has backgrounds in Mechanical, Electrical and Control Engineering and has developed courses in electro-mechanical areas to improve engineering curriculum. She has experience developing and teaching engineering core courses with hands-on experimentation and industry collaboration within classroom encouraging creativity and teamwork.

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George Youssef San Diego State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. George Youssef received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from University of California Los Angeles in 2010 and joined the faculty at San Diego State University after four years appointment at California State University Northridge. His research interest is in the general area of solid mechanics with focus on nontraditional materials such as polymers, composites, and smart materials. His research contribution in dynamic properties of shock-loaded materials, interfacial strength of direct bond wafers, environmental degradation of polymers, and biomechanics of walking. Dr. Youssef has several publications in archival peer-reviewed journals. His research has been supported by National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, and private industries. Dr. Youssef was recognized in 2014 by San Fernando Engineers Council as Distinguished Engineering Educator and is one of the 2016 Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Ralph R. Teetor Award winners.

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Peter L. Bishay California State University - Northridge

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Dr. Peter L. Bishay received his PhD in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from University of California, Irvine in 2014. He joined California State University, Northridge in 2015 as a Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor. His research interests are in the fields of computational solid mechanics and smart materials & structures.

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Career Pathways is a Workforce Development (WFD) program that is supported by State government to instill specific skillsets in K-12 students. Thus, Career pathways generally consist of partnerships between K-12 school districts, community colleges, four-year universities and community-based workforce investment boards. The overall goal is to bridge the gap between industry-needed skills and those attained through schooling. The expected outcome is the transition of students into industry after high school, transfer into a community college, or seek a 4-year college degree. Regardless of the career pathway outcome, the WFD program will inculcate hands-on practical skills in participants. These skills were included based on industry feedback about the gap between current graduates’ skills and those expected in the field of practice. The skills were also echoed in the infamous ‘Engineer of 2020’ report by the National Academy of Engineers. As a result, the career pathways program includes programs and services that addresses this gap and increases the employability of students; thus helping to fill jobs, particularly in the high-tech industry. The overall emphasis of this effort is on the engineering profession, in which that the responsibilities and expectations from an employee in the 21st century is significantly different from those required of decades ago. At XYZ University, the authors of the paper have collaborated with a local community college, two local school districts and a local workforce development investment center to create two separate pathways focused on Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship as well as Digital Manufacturing. The first pathway, i.e. Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship, ingrains the entrepreneurial mindset and up-to-date tools used by industry in all the participants (future workforce). Through this career pathway, students are enabled to keep up with the changing demands of industry in the 21st century. On the other hand, the Digital Manufacturing pathway introduces K-12 students to basic design skills by means of The Engineering Design Process through 3D additive manufacturing. Specifically, participants learn Computer-Aided Design in SolidWorks while gaining hands-on and practical skills in realizing their design using the 3D printing rapid prototyping machines. In addition, students work in groups to gain teamwork skills, collaborate on interdisciplinary projects such assistive technology, and communicate their ideas in visual (e.g., modeling and drawing), oral (e.g., presentations and interactive discussion), and written (e.g. reports) media. The Engineering Design Process and 3D printing are used as core pedagogies in this pathway because they proliferated the biomedical, robotics, and aerospace industries. Thus, the high school students trained in such pathways are gaining and sharpening their soft and hard skills to prepare for successful long-term employment in the engineering practice. In this paper, the authors will discuss the development of these pathways and how they are being currently implemented with a focus on continuous improvement.

Gandhi, S. J., & Nandikolla, V. K., & Youssef, G., & Bishay, P. L. (2016, June), Using Career Pathways to Assimilate High School Students into the Engineering Profession Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27136

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