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.