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.

Engineers use Social Media? Interesting

I recently read an article by Information Week (Esther Shein July 16, 2010 11:12 AM) entitled “Engineers Use Social Media for Business”.

Really I wondered?  Engineers?  Who are these engineers, in what industry do they come from, what country, what generation?

Reading the article fully a few of those answers were revealed, and more…

Here are the crib notes of what I found interesting from this article:

  • May 2010 survey of 1,153 mobility engineers  (I am personally unfamiliar with this discipline title)
  • The engineers work in aerospace, automotive, and commercial-vehicle industries
  • 55% of respondents said they use social media sites for work purposes
  • Greater than 50% are allowed to access SMS during work hours
  • 84% of respondents say they use LINKedIN
  • 59%  use Facebook
  • 30% use YouTube
  • They proudly report that …”Age did not play a significant role in determining the popularity of one social media site over another, according to the survey findings, although mobility engineers who are 35 and under use YouTube more frequently — approximately 20% more than all other age groups”, adding… “In the 45-55 age group, LinkedIn was ranked the most popular.

Wait, did I blink and miss something?  Seems to me age DID in fact play a role in what SMS the varied age groups of mobility engineers were chooing to use.  If I am reading this right, this supports some of what I am seeing in distinct communication boundaries/bridges between the generations Boomer, X, and Millennial (Y) engineers.  The preference of YouTube vs LinkedIn has me wondering about a couple of questions…

1) How is social media is being used for teaching and learning (i.e. are the <35 year old mobility engineers cruising Youtube for that purpose, or something else?  Do they have a preference for visual learning?)

2)What about LinkedIn do GenX’ers find interesting and acceptable in the world of social media?  What purpose is this mass and public communication vehicle serving for them?

I will continue to give these questions more thought…  for now, they have me scratching my small and slowly developing Web 2.0 brain.

 Cited article link:  Engineers use social media  Enjoy!