Comparing disparate outcome measures for better understanding of engineering graduates

Samantha Brunhaver, Shannon Katherine Gilmartin, Helen L. Chen, Holly M. Matusovich, Sheri Sheppard

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    3 Scopus citations


    Despite a strong emphasis on increasing post-graduation engineering retention, few research studies have examined what it actually means to stay in or leave engineering work. This study addresses this limitation using a weighted survey sample of roughly two thousand early career engineering graduates. The research is broadly situated in social cognitive career theory and draws data from the Pathways of Engineering Alumni Research Survey (PEARS), which was a part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Engineering Pathways Study (EPS). Analyses for this study followed a two-step process. First we categorized the engineering graduates into seven occupational groups, and then we compared these seven groups along six other measures of doing engineering work. Four years after graduation, graduates employed in engineering and computer-related occupations tended to identify themselves, their current position, and future plans as engineering-related, while graduates employed in the professions and other non-engineering occupations did not. Additionally, graduates working in fields such as informational technology, business, and the military tended not to perceive themselves as working in engineering; nonetheless, many of these graduates self-identified as an engineer and had plans to pursue engineering work in the future. Our findings demonstrate future research directions for the study of what it means to do engineering work. They also highlight a need for improved career preparation, counseling, and development among early career engineering graduates and students.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publication122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Making Value for Society
    PublisherAmerican Society for Engineering Education
    StatePublished - 2015
    Event2015 122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Seattle, United States
    Duration: Jun 14 2015Jun 17 2015


    Other2015 122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
    Country/TerritoryUnited States

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Engineering


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