New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Military and Veterans Constituent Committee
This study examines the experiences of military veterans pursuing bachelor’s degrees in engineering. Given the diverse backgrounds of veterans, their increasing numbers, and the growing national demand for engineering professionals, the timing is ideal to study the conditions under which student veterans pursue engineering education and the factors that offer them the greatest support for success. Using a comparative case study approach across three institutions, University of San Diego, North Carolina State University, and Purdue University, student veterans are interviewed in focus groups to gain insights on the following research questions:
1. Why do veterans pursue a Bachelor’s degree in engineering? 2. How do military experiences shape student veterans’ educational experiences? 3. What are the experiences of student veterans in engineering education?
The thematic analysis indicates that military veterans pursue engineering based on (1) previous experiences with engineering-related activities while in the military, (2) recommendations from family and friends, (3) the challenging nature of the engineering discipline, and/or (4) the positive job outlook (including prestige and salary) associated with the engineering profession. Other themes that emerged include: differences between student veterans and traditional students and balancing academic and family lives. Most of the student veterans interviewed in the focus groups reported positive academic experiences with sufficient to ample support from faculty and student services. Some noted that the discipline, work ethic, teaming skills, and the mindset that they gained from the military facilitated their progress through the engineering curriculum. Some indicated being more vocal than other traditional students in asking questions and in seeking help from faculty in regard to learning course materials, while others relied on study groups. Findings will provide context and information for various applications, such as: identifying ways in which the military can help separating service members transition into engineering education, development of new strategies to support student veterans' success, identification of overlooked areas to promote student veterans' participation in engineering, and generation of critical information for development of larger-scale studies for investigating student veterans in engineering.
Main, J. B., & Camacho, M. M., & Mobley, C., & Brawner, C. E., & Lord, S. M. (2016, June), Using Focus Groups to Understand Military Veteran Students’ Pathways in Engineering Education Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27147
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