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Zip to Industry: A First-year Corporate-STEM Connection Program

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

NSF Grantees: First Year Programming (1)

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Donald P. Visco Jr. University of Akron

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Donald P. Visco, Jr. is the former Dean of the College of Engineering at The University of Akron and currently a Professor of Chemical Engineering.

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Nidaa Makki University of Akron

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Dr. Nidaa Makki is an Associate Professor in the LeBron James Family Foundation College of Education at The University of Akron, in the department in Curricular and Instructional Studies. Her work focuses on STEM curriculum integration and science inquiry practices in middle and high school. She is a co-PI on an NSF funded project to investigate the impact of integrating engineering on middle school students’ interest and engagement in STEM. She has also received funding to conduct teacher professional development in the areas of engineering education, problem based learning and inquiry instruction.

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Linda M. Subich University of Akron

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Distinguished Professor of Psychology and currently Interim Dean, Buchtel College of Arts & Sciences at The University of Akron

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David Steer University of Akron

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Erin R. Stevic University of Akron

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Most students who start out in an engineering or STEM major in college do so with little understanding of what an engineer or STEM major actually does upon graduation. This is problematic, as some students will take their first math or science test in college, may not perform up to their expectations and conclude that “engineering or STEM is not for me”. Such a scenario results in both additional expense for students as well as a potential loss of students from these critical engineering and STEM fields. US employers often lament the inability to hire graduates with certain important technical skills and, thus, removing barriers that prevent students from moving through the STEM pipeline are crucial for the prosperity of the Nation in the future. Our project, called Zip to Industry: A First-Year Corporate-STEM Connection Program, attempts to address this problem by providing job shadowing opportunities for first-year STEM students during the fall and spring semesters. The students are paid for this exploration and shadow other university students who are on co-operative education/internship assignments or very recent graduates from the university at those companies. This program is funded through NSF IUSE.

The educational framework for the Zip to Industry program is Social Cognitive Career Theory, which proposes that a person’s goals and efforts towards realizing those goals (in this case, a STEM career), are impacted by their interest, self-efficacy, outcome expectations and prior learning experiences related to the goal. Job shadowing is conceived as a powerful learning experience that will impact knowledge and attitudes important for persistence toward a career goal. The Zip to Industry program is notable in that limited research exists on how job shadowing or similar programs impact student retention within STEM during the all-important first-year of college.

During the first year of the program, we provided 59 first-year STEM students with, on average, 3.5 job shadowing opportunities within the region. Preliminary findings show positive results, with students participating in the intervention retained in STEM majors (n=59) from year 1 to year 2 by 81% compared to a retention rate of 68% for a comparison group (n=111).

Visco, D. P., & Makki, N., & Subich, L. M., & Steer, D., & Stevic, E. R. (2020, June), Zip to Industry: A First-year Corporate-STEM Connection Program Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35717

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