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Increasing Student Awareness of Non-Traditional Career Paths in Mechanical Engineering

[+] Author Affiliations
Shaobo Huang, Cassandra M. Degen, Karim H. Muci-Kuchler, Marius D. Ellingsen

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Rapid City, SD

Paper No. IMECE2016-66986, pp. V005T06A009; 6 pages
  • ASME 2016 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 5: Education and Globalization
  • Phoenix, Arizona, USA, November 11–17, 2016
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5057-2
  • Copyright © 2016 by ASME


This paper reports the effect of the curriculum changes in the Mechanical Engineering (ME) department at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSM&T) in two freshman courses. Besides introducing fundamental concepts and principles for mechanical engineering, these courses utilize guest speaker sections to introduce career opportunities, and integrate marketing and corporate policy into engineering design projects.

An engineering motivation survey and a career awareness questionnaire were developed and employed to better understand the impact of the new curriculum on students’ attitudes toward and desire to persist in Mechanical Engineering. Freshmen students’ intrinsic and extrinsic motivations and career awareness were assessed in pre- and post-tests at the beginning and the end of a semester.

The results obtained showed that the introduction of the non-traditional career paths into the two courses students’ perceptions of the career options that ME graduates can pursue and showcased alternatives that proved to be more attractive to under-represented (female) students. Although the students spent less time in traditional engineering topics, their engineering self-efficacy was not diminished, and in fact, the students’ intrinsic motivation was significantly improved. Additionally, students perceived stronger inclusion in the ME program.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME



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