Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Engineering Education

Committee Chair(s)

Angela Minichiello


Angela Minichiello


Cassandra McCall


Jackson Graham


Current efforts to increase research in diversity, equity, and inclusion in engineering education have included research with military students pursuing undergraduate degrees in engineering at civilian, public academic institutions. In this thesis research, military students are defined as undergraduate students who a) have completed their service in the U.S. Armed Forces and are considered military veterans, and/or b) are current enlisted service members, such as in the U.S. Reserves or National Guard. An emerging topic of interest within the military student literature in engineering education has sought to explore the influence of “institutional agents” within military students’ experiences. The research that exists on this topic suggests that institutional agents in student-facing positions, such as faculty and academic advisors, can directly influence the persistence and success of military students in engineering.

This thesis research study, situated within 2- and 4- year institutions in the western United States, fulfills two primary objectives. First, this work develops new knowledge regarding institutional agents’ awareness of the assets, capabilities, and intersecting identities that military students bring to their engineering studies. Second, this study synthesizes promising practices that are currently used to support military students at both the institutional and engineering college levels. Findings highlight the importance of having diverse support personnel, such as veterans, in student facing roles in higher education. Findings also suggest that the context of an institution, including its size, community support, and location from the nearest military installation, impact institutional agents’ abilities to support military students. This study discusses ways of addressing these institutional limitations to create support programs that are successful long-term, including through 1) creating continuity of care in veteran resource offices and voluntary resources like veteran student clubs and mentorship programs, and 2) creating a regional community of military student support personnel where ideas for promising practices can be shared.