Investigating the Intersection of Career Aspirations and Engineering Beliefs in First Year Engineering Students

Jacqueline A. Rohde, Dina Verdin, Jacqueline Doyle, Allison Godwin, Adam Kirn, Lisa Benson, Geoff Potvin

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

11 Scopus citations


This research-category full paper investigates the relationship between first-year engineering students' career aspirations and attitudes towards engineering. Career aspirations describe students' beliefs about professional roles they might perform in the future. Attitudes towards engineering were measured using engineering identity, belongingness within engineering, and specific motivation constructs. Examining the intersection of aspirations and attitudes allows educators to understand how students' intended career choices are related to their perceptions of their educational experience. Using survey data from 2,916 students at four large public universities, we found that an interest in industry-based careers was associated with high engineering identity, belongingness, and motivation scores. We found that gender had a moderate effect on aspirations and attitudes. Additionally, we found that an interest in mechanical engineering was associated with increased certainty in an engineering/industry career, while interests in biomedical engineering, non-engineering STM majors, and non-STEM majors were associated with decreased certainty in an engineering/industry career. These results have implications for the current discourse around how engineering students make decisions about their future careers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFrontiers in Education
Subtitle of host publicationFostering Innovation Through Diversity, FIE 2018 - Conference Proceedings
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781538611739
StatePublished - Jul 2 2018
Externally publishedYes
Event48th Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2018 - San Jose, United States
Duration: Oct 3 2018Oct 6 2018

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565


Conference48th Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Jose


  • Belonging
  • Careers
  • Identity
  • Motivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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