Helping freshmen develop a personal identity as an engineer

Stephen Rippon, James Collofello, Robin R. Hammond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 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 of retention. 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 identity as an Engineer. This paper focuses on the latter. Most engineering programs incorporate career exploration as one of the topics in the Introduction to Engineering course or a separate course or seminar. This Introduction to Engineering course is typically taught as either a discipline-specific course or as a general course open to all 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, there are program-specific Introduction to Engineering courses in which discussion of career exploration is inconsistent. This paper defines the rationale for conducting our Freshman Career Exploration Evening and discusses the desired learning outcomes that governed the design of the event. The paper also details how the Engineering Career Center partnered with Introduction to Engineering faculty to prepare the students through pre-event assignments and post-event self assessment to measure how the industry representatives impacted the students' outlook on their degree choice and the path to their careers. 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 pilot event.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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