Date of Award:

12-2019

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Engineering Education

Advisor/Chair:

Idalis Villanueva

Co-Advisor/Chair:

V. Dean Adams

Third Advisor:

Wade H. Goodridge

Abstract

Career prospects are a motivating factor for entry and retention of doctoral students, especially in the discipline of engineering. While doctoral student training provides them with highly specialized skills to be an independent researcher, they may not have the requisite skills or guidance to secure the job position of their choice. Therefore, it is important to provide doctoral students with opportunities, training, and information (i.e., resources) about different types of careers to not only ensure they are productive contributors of teaching and research, but also equip them for future career prospects. Research techniques based upon in-depth narrative interviews and combining research with action were used to explain how doctoral students develop and fit in with their intended careers and was used to explore what supports and challenges contribute to their intended career paths. Analysis of the data revealed three themes: (1) Engineering Doctoral Identity; (2) Engineering Doctoral Skill Development; and (3) Time. Research emerged as central to engineering doctoral identity and was reinforced by ‘Insiders’, or people who had a Ph.D. in engineering. Insiders’ and doctoral students’ value of research came at the cost of relatively devaluing other skills (e.g., teaching) and associated career resources. These students had to consider and compromise how they fit within an engineering doctoral identity that is premised on research. This negotiation influenced the skills they developed and how they crafted tactics to acquire necessary skills for future careers. At the same time, participants were struggling to cope with immediate demands of their study while also working towards future career goals. Participants struggled to optimize their time, and in response utilized “Time Adaptive Tactics” such as flexibility, networking, and leveraging career resources. Engineering doctoral student and university staff perceptions of career resources were compared against each other which revealed that students utilize resources based upon a hierarchy that considers how specific and close in time and location those resources are. Whereas staff believed their resources were beneficial regardless of these factors. Additionally, the career resources that participants used were influenced by Insiders and how they implicitly showed they valued those resources.

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