From freshman engineering students to practicing professionals: Changes in beliefs about important skills over time

Katherine E. Winters, Holly M. Matusovich, Samantha Brunhaver, Helen L. Chen, Ken Yasuhara, Sheri Sheppard

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Although there has been a strong focus on adapting curricula to better prepare engineering students for the challenges of the future, few research studies have followed students though their undergraduate experiences and beyond to understand students' preparedness for professional work. This study explored what skills engineering students and graduates believe are important for their careers and how these beliefs change over time. This research is broadly situated in social cognitive career theory and draws from the NSF-funded Academic Pathways Study (APS) data. As part of APS, a group of engineering students were interviewed and surveyed during each of their undergraduate years. Approximately four years after graduation, a subset of APS participants were contacted to examine their perceptions of skills and abilities in math, science, business, communication, teamwork, and the application of math and science. Business skills were perceived as being of lower importance overall and as having the largest spread of data over time. Math and science skills were perceived of as being particularly important in students' first year. Over time, communication skills generally increased in importance while teamwork skills decreased. Understanding how students' perspectives of important skills change as alumni can inform how we prepare engineering students for future success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes
Event120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Atlanta, GA, United States
Duration: Jun 23 2013Jun 26 2013


Other120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityAtlanta, GA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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