Critical questions to which engineering students need answers

Armando Rodriguez, Mary R. Anderson-Rowland

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

10 Scopus citations


There are many questions for which prospective or current engineering and computer science students are seeking or should be seeking answers. These critical questions cover many areas including: why a BS in engineering, why engineering, how is an engineering discipline chosen, how is an undergraduate degree in engineering financed, why pursue an engineering degree at a particular institution, how important is a mentor, how important is research, what important skills are required of an engineer, how important is graduate school, what is an MS thesis, why get a PhD, how is a company started, and what factors should be considered in choosing a job. Each of these areas includes many sub-questions. A list of 136 questions was compiled to begin the project of providing answers to the critical engineering student questions. The answers to these questions will eventually be posted on the website of an engineering transfer student program sponsored by the National Science Foundation under an NSF-STEP grant. Since it will take some time to compile all of these answers, in this paper we sought to identify the most critical questions for these students as the starting point for providing the answers. An assignment relative to these 136 questions was given to the students in two academic success programs. The students were asked to read through the 136 questions and then to select and to rank the top 20 questions critical to them. The rankings of the top twenty questions were then analyzed as a whole to determine the most critical and then by the various populations: by academic standing, by transfer or non-transfer status, by scholarship status, by gender, and by ethnicity. The results of this analysis are presented in the paper. By reviewing the results of this study, educators who are working with engineering students are alerted to these critical questions and can bring up these issues in discussions with their students and help to provide answers. These actions are designed to help retention, to increase the interest of students in engineering, and to have more engineering graduates go on to graduate school. In this paper, the term "engineering" will also include computer science, a major within the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication119th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
PublisherAmerican Society for Engineering Education
ISBN (Print)9780878232413
StatePublished - 2012
Event119th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - San Antonio, TX, United States
Duration: Jun 10 2012Jun 13 2012

Publication series

NameASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Electronic)2153-5965


Other119th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Antonio, TX

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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