"oMG! that's what an Engineer does?": Freshmen developing a personal identity as an Engineer

Stephen Rippon, James Collofello, Robin R. Hammond

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

2 Scopus citations


Freshman retention is a top priority in nearly all engineering schools. Increased retention optimizes new-student recruitment dollars, decreases students' time to graduation, impacts school rankings, and helps to meet industry's increasing demand for engineers. Most researchers and experts in the field agree on a number of basic tenants in retaining engineering freshmen. Topmost are the tenants of creating community amongst freshmen, bonding freshmen with returning students, creating opportunities for meaningful interaction between freshmen and faculty both in and outside of the classroom, helping freshmen understand and internalize the vision and mission of the school, and helping freshmen develop a personal identify as an Engineer. This paper focuses on this last tenant. Most engineering programs incorporate career exploration as one of the topics in their Introduction to Engineering course or a separate course or seminar. The Introduction to Engineering course is typically taught as either a discipline-specific course or a general course open to all engineering majors. In both cases, the content and delivery of the engineering career exploration topic is heavily influenced by the faculty member teaching the class. In the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, we teach program/major-specific Introduction to Engineering courses, and-in the past-discussion of career exploration had been inconsistent, at best. In the fall of 2010, by piloting a Freshman Engineering Career Exploration event, the Fulton Schools of Engineering made a commitment to help our freshmen develop a personal identity with their chosen degree programs and/or to help them explore other engineering majors. Our Engineering Career Center-already heavily engaged in career services for our students with very successful career fairs, career development programming, and strong industry relations- engaged our freshman students in the Engineering Career Exploration event which introduced them to industry partners and alumni in a career fair-type atmosphere. The Engineering Career Center had invited our 1,100 engineering freshman to attend that pilot Career Exploration Event to provide context to the entry-level courses that they were enrolled in. As pilots are meant to do, our 2010 inaugural event, though a tremendous success, taught us many lessons for planning the event for fall 2011. This paper defines the rationale for conducting the Freshman Career Exploration Event and discusses how we implemented the lessons learned from our pilot event. In doing so, the paper also inspects the desired learning outcomes that governed the redesign of the event and details how the ASU Engineering Career Center partnered with Introduction to Engineering faculty to develop a three-pronged curriculum to create significant impact on our engineering freshmen. The logistics of the event, including strategies for recruiting company participation, are also discussed. The paper also analyzes the feedback received from students, faculty, and industry partners and how that feedback informed the lessons learned from this second annual event.

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


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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