Military Veteran Students’ Pathways in Engineering Education (Year 1: Award# 1428646)Military veterans hold tremendous promise for expanding and diversifying the engineeringworkforce. Given the diverse backgrounds of veterans, their increasing numbers, and thegrowing national demand for engineering professionals, the timing is ideal to study theconditions under which student veterans pursue engineering education and the factors that offerthem the greatest support for success. Increasing the participation of veterans in engineeringoffers the possibility of enhancing engineering’s diversity in many needed dimensions since,compared to civilian students, veterans are more likely to be older, first-generation collegestudents, disabled, African American, or Latino. Yet, little is known regarding the educationalpathways and experiences of student veterans into engineering. This project therefore aims toaddress gaps in the literature on student veterans in engineering through a comparative casestudy across four institutions: University of San Diego, North Carolina State University, PurdueUniversity, and Clemson University. The following research questions are addressed:1. Why do veterans pursue a Bachelor’s degree in engineering?2. How do military experiences shape student veterans’ educational experiences?3. What are the experiences of student veterans in engineering education?4. How do institutions support veterans in engineering education?The research plan incorporates content analysis of academic policies that student veteransencounter, interviews with key informants on each campus, focus group interviews with studentveterans, and in-depth student interviews to elicit rich narratives. The theoretical frameworkbuilds on Tinto’s student integration model and Schlossberg’s adult transition theory. Data willbe analyzed with the lens of intersectionality to elucidate differences stemming from theintersection of military status with race, gender, ability, sexual orientation, and socioeconomicstatus. Findings will provide context and information for various applications, such as:development of new strategies to support student veterans' success, identification of overlookedareas to promote student veterans' participation in engineering, and generation of criticalinformation for development of larger-scale studies for investigating student veterans inengineering. Thus, this study has potential for broad systemic impact by diversifying pathways toand through engineering programs, and in capitalizing on the informal and real-worldexperiences of engineering student veterans.


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Permanent URL: https://peer.asee.org/24067


Engineering education, Student Pathways, Military Veterans

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Main, J. B., & Brawner, C. E., & Lord, S. M., & Mobley, C., & Camacho, M. M. (2015, June), Exploring Military Veteran Students’ Pathways in Engineering Education Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24067