RAA#4: Education Generation Net – Can U.S. Engineering Woo and Win the Competition for talent?

Chubin, D., Donaldson, K., Olds, B., Fleming, L. (2008). Education Generation Net – Can U.S. Engineering Woo and Win the Competition for talentJournal of Engineering Education, July, 245-257.

Purpose:  The purpose of this research was to determine what matters to the next generation of engineers when considering long term life after school.

Methods:  The method used for the study was a comparative study looking across generations for attributes based on data collected from a wide variety of studies.  Some of the comparisons put forth were anecdotal in nature and did not have data to support the comparisons.

Main findings: There were MANY findings in this study, but here are some key points:

  1. Generation Net students are self-directed learners who want outside classroom experience
  2. Active and collaborative learning had the highest learning outcomes for Generation Net students
  3. Generation Net more outwardly focused on how to impact the world.
  4. Generation Net is increasingly interested in global experiences

Analysis:  This was one of the first pieces I came across in engineering education that began to discuss and think about engineering not as a homogeneous group, but as distinctly different people with different value systems, etc.  The literature review does an excellent job setting up the problem and creating a sense of urgency for the problem.

While there is little real analysis, there are some light statistics and one correlation table to highlight relationships found between students reasons for entering into engineering and their interaction with faculty.  I feel this piece was probably an icebreaker to get the conversation started by using a lot of highly regarded reference materials.

It really was a “call to action” piece for engineering educators to begin thinking about what we need to do differently to engage this new generation for the long haul.  I enjoyed seeing how these engineering educators viewed the situation from inside the academic setting out.

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3 comments on “RAA#4: Education Generation Net – Can U.S. Engineering Woo and Win the Competition for talent?

  1. Mihaela says:

    Interesting, but I am not sure I see the connection to social media?

  2. genxrecon says:

    The link for me relates to the notion that GenY is a generation immersed in social media. Social media use is the way they express themselves, where they go to play, find friends, learn and to connect. As you consider self teaching and active and collaborative learning that is supposedly desired by Gen Y, then I think there is a need to consider how social media aids, re-enforces, etc. that style of teaching and learning.

    Specifically in the business environment, if GenY engineers prefer collaborative learning and self learning, then how do tools like Wiki’s and Yammer/Pebble etc. support that style of learning on into the professional setting? Further, as students are making their first employment choice upon graduation, are they considering aspects like the social media culture of the firm (including a firm’s social media policy) when they make their employment selection?

    I believe in class I once heard you mention (I think it was you) a story where students were turning down job offers because of the strict social media policies within the offering firms, recounting something like “who would want to work at a place like that?” I am generalizing but often, firms that hire engineers can be very traditional in nature, with policies that match the “business as usual” tradition. The dots I would like to connect with this article, is the notion that the battle for talent in the future will be won or lost based on a firm’s ability to play into the needs of this new generation. The use of tools that allows GenY to continue to operate in ways that fit their style and comfort zone is an important consideration

    Based on the statistics we have shared in class, I would argue that social media/Ent.2.0 tools plays a role in the “race for talent” in the workplace.

Looking forward to your thoughts and comments!

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