2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Work in Progress: An Investigation of the Influence of Academic Culture on Engineering Graduates' Workforce Expectations and Subsequent Work Behaviors

Presented at Student Division (STDT) Technical Session 5: Motivation and Support for Success

Despite increased demand for civil engineers, there have been challenges in both the recruitment of engineers from university programs and the retention of engineers in organizations. Previous studies have examined engineering graduates’ retention in their professions as subsets of individual values and circumstance. However, there is limited research analyzing the overarching organizational culture of engineering colleges that may influence the expectations and outcomes of engineering graduates in industry. This study investigates the influence of organizational culture on individual success in the engineering college and the engineering workplace. We utilize a theoretical model to determine whether individual success is dependent on one or more of the following categories: relationships, processes, and outcomes. From structural components within the organizational systems and interviews with sixteen early career civil and environmental engineers, we find that success as an engineering student is dependent on outcomes (grades), while success as an early career engineer is dependent on the management of relationships, processes, and outcomes. Given the significant proportion of engineering graduates who transition directly into industrial positions, this paper expands upon previous literature advocating for changes within the engineering college culture and serves to provide recommendations to the civil engineering community to ease school-to-work transitions and improve retention within the profession.

  1. Philippa Eshun Northwestern University
  2. Dr. Kacey Beddoes San Jose State University [biography]
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