ASEE Zone 2 Conference 2017

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Integrating a Career Conference into the First Year Curriculum

Final Paper
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To help improve students’ understanding of the rewards, challenges, and incentives of “being an engineer,” and to thereby improve retention in the freshman year, we created a number of engineering-related writing assignments in the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering (SSOE) first year Introduction to Engineering course. These writing assignments require that students research various aspects of engineering education and engineering careers, including research into the particular engineering field the student sees himself or herself being interested in. Despite our efforts, however, many students just did not seem to take the assignments seriously, often seeing this research and writing as not having much to do with “real” engineering (which, in their thinking, involved only STEM-related coursework). As a result, students were not getting the full benefit of the writing assignments.
To encourage our students to put more effort into the first year research and writing assignments and to impress on them the value of the “real world” applications of the learning and goals of the assignments, we created the SSOE First Year Career Conference. The conference is a Saturday event, modeled after career conferences at student professional conferences such as SWE, NSBE and SHPE. In the conference we bring in practicing engineers from various companies and organizations; these engineers give talks to the students, emphasizing the importance of thinking carefully and with well-informed awareness, about their career plans. This paper discusses the factors around creating such a conference and the impact it has made.


Dan Budny    
University of Pittsburgh
United States

Beth Newborg    
University of Pittsburgh
United States


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