Preparing the engineer of 2020: Analysis of alumni data

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

8 Scopus citations


The College of Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University aspires to educate engineers of 2020: engineers who are innovative, ethical, and good communicators, and have the skills to work globally and in multidisciplinary teams. For evaluation purposes, the University periodically sends out surveys in which engineering alumni are asked about how well prepared they perceive themselves to be for their post-graduation employment. Using the results from the 2010 administration of this survey, this study seeks to answer the following questions: (1) What are alumni's perceptions of their preparedness in these areas: ethics, innovation, communication, project management, global and international work, and multidisciplinary teamwork? (2) Can clusters be identified from the survey results? (3) What undergraduate engineering experiences helped prepare them for these skills, and in what ways do they believe the University could have prepared them better? An exploratory TwoStep cluster analysis was performed on survey data from 738 engineering alumni. Substantially different cluster solutions were obtained when the order of the input data was changed. Therefore, the authors concluded that a cluster analysis was not appropriate. Instead, the data was divided into three groups based on satisfaction: (1) Group A: participants who were very satisfied with their engineering education, (2) Group B: participants who were satisfied, and (3) Group C: participants who were below satisfied. The three groups reported different levels of preparedness. Telephone interviews were conducted with members of each of the three groups. In this paper, preliminary results will be reported for Group A, the group of participants who were very satisfied. Twenty-six alumni classified as being in Group A participated in one thirty-minute telephone interview in which they described the undergraduate engineering experiences that helped prepare them for these skills, and identified ways in which they believed the University could better prepare students for these skills. The methods described in this paper can be valuable for universities and departments interested in conducting program evaluations. The preliminary results presented in this paper will demonstrate some of the experiences that have and have not been effective in the process of preparing engineers of 2020, with the goal of propagating these effective experiences across departments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication119th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
PublisherAmerican Society for Engineering Education
ISBN (Print)9780878232413
StatePublished - 2012
Event119th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - San Antonio, TX, United States
Duration: Jun 10 2012Jun 13 2012

Publication series

NameASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Electronic)2153-5965


Other119th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Antonio, TX

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


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