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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 2018. Understanding the Educational and Career Pathways of Engineers. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25284.
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Understanding the
Educational and
Career Pathways
of Engineers

Committee on Understanding the Engineering Education-Workforce Continuum

A Consensus Study Report of the

images

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, DC
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 2018. Understanding the Educational and Career Pathways of Engineers. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25284.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001

This activity was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. (1344190). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-48560-9
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-48560-6
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Suggested citation: National Academy of Engineering. 2018. Understanding the Educational and Career Pathways of Engineers. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: https://doi.org/10.17226/25284.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 2018. Understanding the Educational and Career Pathways of Engineers. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25284.
×

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The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, nongovernmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to bring the practices of engineering to advising the nation. Members are elected by their peers for extraordinary contributions to engineering. Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., is president.

The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the nation on medical and health issues. Members are elected by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president.

The three Academies work together as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding in matters of science, engineering, and medicine.

Learn more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine at www.nationalacademies.org.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 2018. Understanding the Educational and Career Pathways of Engineers. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25284.
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Image

Consensus Study Reports published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine document the evidence-based consensus on the study’s statement of task by an authoring committee of experts. Reports typically include findings, conclusions, and recommendations based on information gathered by the committee and the committee’s deliberations. Each report has been subjected to a rigorous and independent peer-review process and it represents the position of the National Academies on the statement of task.

Proceedings published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine chronicle the presentations and discussions at a workshop, symposium, or other event convened by the National Academies. The statements and opinions contained in proceedings are those of the participants and are not endorsed by other participants, the planning committee, or the National Academies.

For information about other products and activities of the National Academies, please visit www.nationalacademies.org/about/whatwedo.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 2018. Understanding the Educational and Career Pathways of Engineers. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25284.
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COMMITTEE ON UNDERSTANDING THE ENGINEERING EDUCATION-WORKFORCE CONTINUUM

Committee Members

JEAN-LOU CHAMEAU (NAE), chair, President Emeritus, California Institute of Technology

RODNEY C. ADKINS (NAE), vice chair, President, 3RAM Group, LLC

ERIC DUCHARME (NAE), General Manager, Advanced Technology Operation, GE Aviation

NADYA A. FOUAD, Distinguished Professor and Mary and Ted Kellner Endowed Chair of Educational Psychology, Counseling Psychology, and School and Community Counseling, School of Education, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

RICHARD B. FREEMAN, Herbert Ascherman Professor of Economics, Harvard University

JENNIFER HUNT, James Cullen Chair in Economics and Professor of Economics, Rutgers University

AMY JAVERNICK-WILL, Nicholas R. and Nancy D. Petry Professor in Construction Engineering and Management, University of Colorado Boulder

JULIA LANE, Professor, Wagner School and Center for Urban Science and Progress, Provostial Fellow for Innovation Analytics, and Senior Fellow in the GovLab, New York University

GARY S. MAY (NAE), Chancellor, University of California, Davis

RICHARD K. MILLER (NAE), President and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering

DAVID NAGEL, Executive Vice President (retired), BP America, Inc.

SHERI D. SHEPPARD, Bass University Fellow in Undergraduate Education, Richard Weiland Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Associate Chair for Undergraduate Curriculum, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University

NICOLE SMITH, Research Professor and Chief Economist, Center on Education and the Workforce, Georgetown University

National Academy of Engineering Project Staff

PROCTOR P. REID, Study Director and Program Office Director (until June 2018)

FRAZIER BENYA, Program Officer (until October 2017)

ELIZABETH T. CADY, Program Officer

LANCE A. DAVIS, Executive Officer (retired) (until March 2016)

CATHERINE DIDION, Senior Program Officer (until January 2016)

CAMERON H. FLETCHER, Senior Editor

MICHAEL HOLZER, Senior Program Assistant (since May 2017)

JASON WILLIAMS, Senior Financial Associate (until May 2017)

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 2018. Understanding the Educational and Career Pathways of Engineers. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25284.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 2018. Understanding the Educational and Career Pathways of Engineers. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25284.
×

Acknowledgments

This Consensus Study Report represents the work of many individuals, especially those who served on the committee and participated in the committee’s open sessions. The first thanks are to the committee members for their deep knowledge and contributions to the study.

The committee employed several consultants who collected and analyzed data and contributed commissioned papers that appear in the appendices. Thanks go to Donna K. Ginther (University of Kansas), Shulamit Kahn (Boston University), Debbie Hughes, Jason Owen-Smith (University of Michigan), Treva Stack, David Stevens, Isabel Cárdenas-Navia (Alta Vision Consulting), Sylvia Hurtado (University of California, Los Angeles), Bryce E. Hughes (Montana State University), M. Kevin Eagan (University of California, Los Angeles), and Robert Paul (University of Washington). Lynette Osborne evaluated the workshop and other elements of the project. Finally, Alexandra Lockwood provided invaluable support during the data-gathering and writing phases.

The committee benefited from presentations by several individuals who participated in our fact-finding workshop in November 2014. In addition to committee members and consultants, presenters were Samantha Brunhaver (Arizona State University), Jeri L. Buchholz (NASA), Dianne Chong (The Boeing Company), Constance J. Pritchard (The Pritchard Group), Darryll Pines (University of Maryland), Michael McKenzie (George Washington University), Steven Brown (Loyola University Chicago), Andrew Gillen (American Institutes for Research), Larry Bucciarelli (MIT), David Knight (Virginia Tech), and Hal Salzman (Rutgers University).

This report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We thank the following individuals for their review of this report:

Monitor:

Paul Gray (NAE)

University of California, Berkeley

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 2018. Understanding the Educational and Career Pathways of Engineers. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25284.
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Reviewers:

Diran Apelian

Alcoa-Howmet Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Founding Director of Metal Processing Institute

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Jeri L. Buchholz

Assistant Administrator, Office of Human Capital Management (retired)

NASA

Lisa Flores

Professor, Department of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology

University of Missouri–Columbia

Norman L. Fortenberry

Executive Director

American Society for Engineering Education

Joyce M. Gleason

Educational Consultant (retired)

Jill Hruby

Immediate Past Laboratory Director

Sandia National Laboratories

Edward Lazowska

Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science and Engineering, Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering

University of Washington

Gary Lichtenstein

Founder and Principal

Quality Evaluation Designs

Susan Martinovich

National Technology Practice Director

CH2M/Jacobs

Jayathi Y. Murthy

Ronald and Valerie Sugar Dean, Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science

University of California, Los Angeles

Matthew Ohland

Professor, School of Engineering Education

Purdue University

J. Jerl Purcell, III

Executive Director, HD Growth Program

Cummins, Inc.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 2018. Understanding the Educational and Career Pathways of Engineers. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25284.
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Hal Salzman

Professor, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and

Senior Faculty Fellow, John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Fred B. Schneider

Samuel B. Eckert Professor of Computer Science and

Chairman, Department of Computer Science

Cornell University

John J. Tracy

Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President (retired)

The Boeing Company

Bruce A. Weinberg

Professor, Department of Economics

Ohio State University

Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Paul R. Gray (NAE), professor, vice chancellor, and provost emeritus, University of California, Berkeley. He was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

Thanks are also due to the project staff: Proctor Reid, Frazier Benya, Elizabeth Cady, Catherine Didion, Lance Davis, Cameron Fletcher, Michael Holzer, and Jason Williams. Special thanks go to the late Proctor Reid, who died suddenly in June 2018. Proctor planned and oversaw the entire effort and was instrumental in helping build consensus on the most salient topics of the study. In the final phase of the project he worked tirelessly on the completion of the report, often on weekends, and ensured that diverse opinions were incorporated while preserving the essence and major conclusions of the report. We will always remember him as a thoughtful and kind human being and miss him as a valued colleague and friend.

Jean-Lou Chameau (Chair),

President Emeritus, California Institute of Technology

Rodney C. Adkins (Vice Chair),

President, 3RAM Group, LLC

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 2018. Understanding the Educational and Career Pathways of Engineers. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25284.
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Page xiii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 2018. Understanding the Educational and Career Pathways of Engineers. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25284.
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Boxes, Figures, and Tables

BOXES

I-1 The Greatest Engineering Achievements of the 20th Century

I-2 National Academy of Engineering Study Committee on Understanding the Engineering Education to Workforce Continuum Statement of Task

1-1 Engineering Technicians and Engineering Technologists

1-2 Growth in Engineering Degrees Awarded Annually

1-3 Entrepreneurship as a Career Option

1-4 The Promise of Administrative Data

1-5 Impact of Immigration of Engineers on US Economic Growth

2-1 Google’s Search Criteria for New Hires

3-1 Pool of High School Students Who Might Enroll in Engineering Bachelor’s Degree Programs

FIGURES

1-B1 Number of bachelor’s degrees awarded annually in engineering and related fields, 2000–2013

1-1 Primary pathways in engineering education

1-2 Percentage of bachelor’s degrees awarded in engineering disciplines in 2000, 2006, and 2013

1-3 Number of bachelor’s degrees awarded annually by engineering discipline, 2000–2013

1-4 Percentage of engineering bachelor’s degree holders over the age of 25 who earned an additional degree beyond the bachelor’s, by degree level and area of degree

1-5 Percentage of women by highest degree in engineering, 2000–2013

1-6 Percentage of engineering degrees awarded annually to underrepresented minorities (African Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and Hispanics of any race), 2000–2013

1-7 Percentage of engineering degrees awarded annually to foreign-born temporary resident students, 2000–2013

1-8 Engineering degree holders in the workforce by discipline and by highest degree

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 2018. Understanding the Educational and Career Pathways of Engineers. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25284.
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1-9 Cumulative completion rates of bachelor’s engineering degree aspirants, by sex

1-10 Cumulative completion rates of bachelor’s engineering degree aspirants, by race

1-11 The engineering workforce in 2013: Degreed engineers in engineering and non-engineering occupations, and workers without an engineering degree in engineering occupations

1-12 Percentage of engineers whose highest degree is in engineering and who use their degree in their occupation

1-13 Pathways of the engineering bachelor’s graduates (1996–2002), showing those moving from and to engineering occupations between 2003 and 2008

1-14 Pathways of the engineering bachelor’s graduates (1986–1993), showing those moving from and to engineering occupations between 2003 and 2008

1-15 Median annual earnings over career, by major

1-16 Lifetime earnings for those with bachelor’s degrees in electrical, mechanical, and civil engineering compared to all majors

1-17 Lifetime earnings for those with bachelor’s degrees in electrical and civil engineering, computer science, and mathematics and statistics

1-18 Median lifetime earnings for the top-paying 15 majors

1-19 Cobweb model

3-1 Diagram of social cognitive career theory

3-2 Percent somewhat or very satisfied with their job by engineering degree and occupation

A-1 Bachelor’s (BSE), master’s (MSE) and PhD degrees in engineering, 2000–2013

A-2 Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering by field, 2000–2013

A-3 Growth in bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degrees in engineering, 2000–2012

A-4 Bachelor’s degrees in engineering and related fields, 2000–2013

A-5 Percentage of degrees awarded to females in engineering, 2000–2013

A-6 Percentage of degrees awarded to underrepresented minorities in engineering, 2000–2013

A-7 Percentage of degrees awarded to foreign-born students in engineering, 2000–2013

A-8 Engineering as a percentage of total employment, 2013

A-9A Total employment in engineering occupations, 2000–2013

A-9B Stock of bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering, 1999–2013

A-10 To what extent do those with highest degree a BS or MS in engineering utilize their degree

A-11 How related work is to the field of highest degrees, by major degree field

A-12 Likelihood of holding a management job (for those with highest degree a bachelor’s or master’s), by field of highest degree

A-13 Employment of individuals with highest degree BSE or MSE in engineering by years since highest degree

A14A Employment sector for individuals with highest degree bachelor’s and master’s in engineering & employed in engineering occupations

A-14B Employer size for individuals with highest degree bachelor’s and master’s in engineering & employed in engineering occupations

A-15A Annual average earnings for bachelor’s degrees by field and years of experience

A-15B Annual average earnings for master’s degrees by field and years of experience

A-16 Percent somewhat or very satisfied with their job by engineering degree and occupation combinations

A-17 Individuals with engineering degree and engineering occupations reporting dissatisfaction with job by reason

A-18 Individuals with highest degree bachelor’s or master’s in engineering who report working in job unrelated to degree—most important reasons

A1-1 Master’s and PhD degrees in engineering and related fields, 2000–2013

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 2018. Understanding the Educational and Career Pathways of Engineers. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25284.
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C-1 Percentage of entering first-time, full-time freshman intending to major in engineering, 1971–2012

C-2 Proportion of first-time, full-time freshmen planning an engineering career, fall 2012, disaggregated by sex and race/ethnicity

C-3 Comparisons by major in self-concept change over four years in college

C-4 Relationship between fourth-year retention in engineering and internship participation

C-5 Relationship between fourth-year retention in engineering and participation in a major-related club or organization

C-6 Faculty’s perceptions of how well graduate school prepared them to be a faculty member, and to mentor new faculty members

C-7 Importance of teaching goals among faculty, by discipline

C-8 Importance of teaching goals among faculty, by discipline

C-9 Faculty participation in teaching enhancement workshops and inclusion of undergraduates on research projects

C-10 Engineering completion rates of engineering degree aspirants, by race

C-11 STEM completion rates of engineering degree aspirants, by race

C-12 Engineering completion rates among engineering aspirants, by sex

C-13 Six-year completion outcomes by STEM field aspiration

C-14 Degree aspirations among engineering graduates, as of June 2011

C-15 Degree aspirations among engineering graduates, as of June 2011, by sex

C-16 Degree aspirations among engineering graduates, as of June 2011, by race

C-17 Post-college pathways of engineering degree holders

C-18 Immediate employment expectations of engineering degree holders who attended graduate school

C-19 Ultimate career goals of engineering degree holders who attended graduate school

C-20 Economic concerns among engineering degree holders, by race/ethnicity

C-21 Economic concerns among engineering degree holders, by sex

D-1 Cobweb model

E-1 Sample connections for administrative data

E-2 Pilot program connecting student enrollment and transcript data with employment on a federal research grant

E-3 Longitudinal data collected and developed by the Jacob France Institute for engineering student wages

E-4 Reported earnings profiles for electrical and mechanical engineering graduate wages based on Maryland Unemployment Insurance Wage Records

E-5 Potential insight to be gained by linking administrative data from multiple institutions

TABLES

1-1 Number of college-educated people employed in NSF engineering occupations, 2015

1-2 Disciplinary background of non-engineering bachelor’s degree holders employed in engineering occupations in the United States (percent), 2015

1-3 Demographics of those working in engineering occupations in the United States, 2015

1-4 Share of women earning engineering bachelor’s degrees by field

1-5 Engineering bachelor’s degrees awarded by field and race, 2013

1-6 Employed engineering bachelor’s or master’s degree holders by occupation

1-7 Demographic comparison of those who started in engineering and completed a degree in engineering, completed a degree in a different area (STEM or non-STEM), or got no degree

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academy of Engineering. 2018. Understanding the Educational and Career Pathways of Engineers. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25284.
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1-8 Underrepresented minority (URM) employed bachelor’s degree holders by gender and field of bachelor’s degree

1-9 Share of those in engineering occupations with a bachelor’s in engineering by race and gender

1-10 Connection of engineering degree to occupation for workers with a degree in engineering

1-11 Activities most often performed by (1) bachelor’s-degreed engineers in any occupation, (2) bachelor’s-degreed engineers in engineering occupations, and (3) workers in engineering occupations with or without an engineering degree

1-12 Where engineering bachelor’s graduates from 1996–2002 were working in 2003 (time 1) and 2008 (time 2)

1-13 Where engineering bachelor’s graduates from 1986–1993 were working in 2003 (time 1) and 2008 (time 2)

1-14 Mean wages for those whose highest degree is a bachelor’s or master’s in engineering, science and engineering (S&E), or a non-S&E field; 10–15 years from degree, working in management occupations

2-1 Attributes of engineers set forth by the NAE Engineer of 2020 Committee mapped to ABET EC2000 criteria

3-1 Comparison of high school (HS) preparation for engineering and other STEM majors: Whites/Asians, underrepresented minorities (URM), males, and females

3-2 Multiple-Institution Database for Investigating Engineering Longitudinal Development (MIDFIELD) data showing persistence and enrollment in various majors to eighth semester, 1987–1999 cohorts

3-3 Early-career graduates with engineering bachelor’s degrees: primary reason for working in occupation unrelated to highest degree

3-4 Early-career graduates (less than 3 years postdegree) with engineering bachelor’s degrees: Highest degree earned. PhD degrees are not included in this because students are unlikely to finish a PhD program within three years of earning their bachelor’s degree

3-5 Early-career graduates with engineering bachelor’s degrees: Reasons for taking additional coursework

A-1 A comparison between what people were doing in 2003 and 2008

C-1 Demographic composition, first-time, full-time freshmen, fall 2012

C-2 Academic preparation, first-time, full-time freshmen, fall 2012

C-3 Items included in academic and social self-concept constructs

C-4 Demographic comparison between engineering completers and “leavers”

E-1 Educational outcomes for students participating in undergraduate research experiences

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Engineering skills and knowledge are foundational to technological innovation and development that drive long-term economic growth and help solve societal challenges. Therefore, to ensure national competitiveness and quality of life it is important to understand and to continuously adapt and improve the educational and career pathways of engineers in the United States. To gather this understanding it is necessary to study the people with the engineering skills and knowledge as well as the evolving system of institutions, policies, markets, people, and other resources that together prepare, deploy, and replenish the nation’s engineering workforce.

This report explores the characteristics and career choices of engineering graduates, particularly those with a BS or MS degree, who constitute the vast majority of degreed engineers, as well as the characteristics of those with non-engineering degrees who are employed as engineers in the United States. It provides insight into their educational and career pathways and related decision making, the forces that influence their decisions, and the implications for major elements of engineering education-to-workforce pathways.

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