2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Why Should You Join? Exploring the Role of Engineering Clubs on the Undergraduate Engineering Experience

Presented at Student Division (STDT) Technical Session 2: Student Success and Resources

Extracurricular clubs are an integral part of the undergraduate experience for many engineers, whether competing with Formula SAE, building a bridge abroad with Engineers Without Borders, or pursing passions in the performing arts. Students participate in extracurriculars for belonging, professional development, fun, skill-building, and a plethora of individual motivations. This research seeks to better understand the methods of skill and self-efficacy building in the undergraduate engineering environment by examining how students view the impact of participation in extracurricular activities, particularly engineering clubs, to their college experience.
At University X, a subset of clubs are classified as “engineering clubs” within the School of Engineering. Engineering clubs can be further divided into three categories: competition design teams, service or globally focused clubs, and pre-professional or affinity clubs. All types of engineering clubs at University X were considered in this study, but an emphasis was placed on clubs with a hands-on design project.
Coursework is traditionally viewed as the primary means of developing engineering knowledge and skills. However, hands-on design projects completed in clubs can impart valuable design skills, namely iteration, manufacturing, testing, and teamwork. This study used a survey to collect information about the experiences of undergraduate engineering students in engineering clubs. In this work in progress, we present the initial results of the students’ perceptions of skill development, self-efficacy, and time spent on engineering clubs. With a clearer understanding of where and how students learn outside the classroom, engineering schools can better allocate resources to facilitate learning.

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