Librarians at Purdue University seek to develop engineering graduates who are effective information users. Similarly, information specialists at Caterpillar Inc. are concerned with how well new hires are prepared for the information landscape at work as practicing engineers. Librarians from Purdue University and Caterpillar partnered to create and disseminate a survey to compare how students and practicing engineers seek and use information in the research process. Within a framework that asked survey participants to think about information use in a recently completed project, responses highlighted several gaps in information literacy training, including the use of external standards and internal document storage systems, documentation practices, and resource awareness. We also explored information habits and frustrations of both user populations and found that, while students have more confidence in their abilities, they consult many fewer types of literature and utilize fewer strategies for organizing information effectively. Additionally, the findings suggest students tend to use more social media tools to keep abreast of developments in their field than practicing engineers, while engineers rely heavily on internal knowledge management systems to track information generated by the company that augments externally produced information.
The goal of this project was to better understand both consistencies and gaps in university engineering education and industry expectations. This paper presents preliminary findings from this project and discusses how the authors plan to use the results to update undergraduate curricula and improve library services and resources for both populations.
information literacy, information habits of engineers, future of libraries
Date of this Version
Phillips, Margaret; Fosmire, Michael; Petersheim, Kristin; Turner, Laura; and Lu, Jing, "How do professional engineers use information compared to undergraduates, and how can libraries prepare students and support engineers for future success?" (2018). Libraries Faculty and Staff Scholarship and Research. Paper 203.