The career aspirations of associate degree students: implications for engineering educators and the profession

Dowling, David (2010) The career aspirations of associate degree students: implications for engineering educators and the profession. In: Engineering Education Conference (EE 2010): Inspiring the Next Generation of Engineers , 6-8 Jul 2010, Birmingham, United Kingdom.

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During the period 2006-2008 there was a large and unexpected growth in the commencing enrolments in the distance education offer of the Associate Degree of Engineering program, with the commencing student total growing from 115 in 2005, to 337 in 2008. A small questionnaire was developed in 2006 to explore the reasons for this spike in enrolments, and to gather information about these students, who mostly study part-time because they work full-time in the engineering industry.
The online questionnaire was posted in March 2007 and all of the students enrolled in the program at that time were asked to complete the questionnaire. Since then, the students in each commencing cohort have been invited to complete the questionnaire during their first semester of study.
A preliminary analysis of the 247 responses from distance education students found that 63% of the students have a career goal to become a Professional Engineer and see the Associate Degree as a stepping stone to the Bachelor of Engineering. Surprisingly, less than 14% of the respondents intend to pursue a career as an Engineering Associate. This unexpected result challenges a long-held assumption that students in Australian Advanced Diploma and Associate Degree programs will pursue careers as Engineering Technicians.
This paper reports on an analysis of the 2007-2009 data and discusses the need for effective and efficient articulation (upgrade) pathways to encourage people employed in the engineering industry to undertake university studies and achieve their career goals. If implemented, the benefits will accrue to students, universities, employers, and the engineering profession.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © 2009 David Dowling. The author assigns to the EE2010 organisers 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. Deposited with permission of Author.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - Department of Surveying and Land Information
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2010 06:10
Last Modified: 28 Nov 2014 00:11
Uncontrolled Keywords: associate degree; engineering; technician; career aspirations
Fields of Research : 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170107 Industrial and Organisational Psychology
13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy
13 Education > 1399 Other Education > 139999 Education not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education

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