Engineering graduate program: how it affects the skills, attributes and career development of graduate engineers

Preston, Vivian and Goh, Steven (2013) Engineering graduate program: how it affects the skills, attributes and career development of graduate engineers. In: 24th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE 2013): Work Integrated Learning - Applying Theory to Practice in Engineering Education, 8-11 Dec 2013, Gold Coast, Australia.

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Abstract

BACKGROUND
An Engineering Graduate Program (EGP) generally refers to a structured program within an engineering company that has been specifically designed to assist a University engineering graduate's transition into the workforce. It is important to ensure graduates are informed in applying for the various EGP as graduate employment can extend up to four years, requiring a large commitment from the graduate. With the overload of information about EGPs provided by hiring companies, this decision can become both confusing and overwhelming.
PURPOSE
There is a broad and varied spectrum of EGP dependent on the respective engineering employers. The aim of this research study was to provide an insight into a small sample of different EGPs. In doing so it aimed to assist engineering graduates in making more appropriate employment decisions. The following questions prompted this research study:
 Will it matter what company a graduate chooses to gain employment with?
 Are some graduate positions better than others? If so, in what way?
 What can be expected during the first few years of graduate employment?
 How will a graduates skills and attributes develop throughout this time?
 Will the choice of employment influence future career opportunities?
METHOD
This study used online non-validated surveys to gather information on graduate performance over a three month period from two perspectives; the graduate and their supervisor. Five engineering companies participated, each with a minimum of two Bachelor of Engineering graduates and their corresponding supervisors. Due to the nature and sensitivity of survey questions, all participants and their respective employers have been kept anonymous for the purpose of this research study.
RESULTS
Two types of EGP structures were identified in this study; Formal and Informal. Distinct differences in graduate performance and attitude were found between the two types of EGP structures. These differences could be linked to the nature of the EGP styles. This study also found that the difference in perceptions of graduate performance exist between graduates and their supervisors.
CONCLUSIONS
No matter what type of EGP an engineering graduate chooses, findings in this study show that improvement in skills, attributes and attitudes come with time and that career progression is, by nature, somewhat organic. It has however identified trends in skills and attributes that are better focussed on in each style due to the nature of the EGP. The author acknowledges that there is no right or wrong types of EGP, rather it is on an individual bases as to which EGP is better or rather appropriately suited for the individual graduate.


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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Copyright © 2013 Preston & Goh: The authors assign to AAEE and educational non-profit institutions a non-exclusive licence to use this document for personal use and in courses of instruction provided that the article is used in full and this copyright statement is reproduced. The authors also grant a non-exclusive licence to AAEE to publish this document in full on the World Wide Web (prime sites and mirrors), on Memory Sticks, and in printed form within the AAEE 2013 conference proceedings. Any other usage is prohibited without the express permission of the authors.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2014 12:54
Last Modified: 11 Feb 2015 05:45
Uncontrolled Keywords: graduate development; graduate training; career development; engineering graduate program
Fields of Research : 13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130305 Educational Counselling
13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy
09 Engineering > 0999 Other Engineering > 099999 Engineering not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939908 Workforce Transition and Employment
C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9303 Curriculum > 930302 Syllabus and Curriculum Development
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/25040

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