To Infinity and Beyond: Boosting URM Students' Career Trajectories through Professional Experiences

Fethiye Ozis, Kyle Nathan Winfree, Elizabeth Glass

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


It is hard to deny the impact of experiential learning through internships on engineering education. Likewise, students may also benefit from professional experiences that are not traditional internships. From shadowing, to full-blown hands-on internships, experiential learning provides students with the ability to see application of theory beyond classrooms, to learn to efficiently practice their art, develop transferable skills, and add further value to their academic career. Engineering educators, and engineering industry leaders, have long recognized the value of and the need for “practice ready” graduates. Today, as the world grapples with the work-from-home and social distancing guidelines necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19; we are in need of “practice ready” graduates more than ever before. The degree to which engineering graduates are prepared to perform on the job can be further improved by establishing strong and effective college-industry partnerships that develop meaningful and diverse professional experiences. The value of these experiences, resultant of strong college-industry partnerships, include but are not limited to: refining and expanding students' professional identity, practice readiness, and improving resilience. In this paper, we considered professional experiences from the students' perspective. The data were collected by conducting an online survey of all engineering students in the College of Engineering, Informatics, and Applied Sciences at Northern Arizona University. The survey was scoped to identify the plethora of current experiences of students, explore related major duties and responsibilities, and self reported holistic competencies. This paper investigated to what extent these experiences shaped students' professional identities, practice readiness, and motivated them to persevere through their studies. The findings of this work close-the-loop, and can be utilized to improve the activities of engineering career development offices across the world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jul 26 2021
Event2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jul 26 2021Jul 29 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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