Sheri Sheppard: Q & A Panel


– [Moderator] So, I’ll
go through and introduce each of our panelists briefly, and then we’ll jump right in. So, to my left is Ed Berger. Ed Berger is an associate professor, recently promoted to full, – (Audience Member) Hey, Hey. – [Moderator] in Education
and Mechanical Engineering at Purdue. He earned his Ph.D. in
Mechanical Engineering at Purdue in 1996, and his M.S. in Mechanical Engineering
a little before that. Prior to joining us in 2014, he served as Associate Dean for
Undergraduate Programs in the School of Engineering at the University of
Virginia, where he was also a faculty member in
mechanical engineering. Prior to joining UVA,
he was on the faculty in mechanical at the
University of Cincinnati. His engineering education research agenda includes two key issues. First, as an instructor
at the use of social media for effective teaching, and second, as an administrator at the emerging institutional research
area of predictive models for student academic success. His mechanical engineering
research interests include nonlinear mechanics of
joints and interfaces. To Ed’s left is Sheri Sheppard. Here we go. It’s over here. Sheri Sheppard is the Richard Wieland Professor of Mechanical
Engineering at Stanford, where she teaches both undergraduate and graduate design classes, and conducts research
on fracture mechanics and applied finite element analysis, and she does research on
how people become engineers. From 1999-2008, she
served as a Senior Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, where she led the foundation’s
engineering study. In addition to publishing
technical papers, reports, and text books,
she has led or co-led several large multi-institutional projects to build new educational research programs and related resources, such as the Center for the Advancement
of Engineering Education, the National Center for
Engineering Pathways to Innovation, which some of you may
know as the Epicenter, and a program on some research experiences for high school teachers. Her industry experience
includes engineering positions at all of Detroit’s Big
Three, Ford, GM, and Chrysler. Her work has been recognized with numerous honors and awards including the Walter Gores award, which is Stanford’s highest award for excellence in teaching, and the Chester Carlson award and Ralph Coats Roe awards from the American Society
for Engineering Education, recognizing her
distinguished accomplishments in engineering education and her outstanding teachable
and notable contributions to the mechanical engineering profession. So, to Sheri’s left his Joyce Main, Assistant Professor of
Engineering Education, recently given tenure and
promoted to Associate. And her research examines the impact of educational programs and policies on students’ academic
and employment pathways, with a focus on participation of women and underrepresented
minorities in engineering. In 2017, Dr. Main was
awarded an NSF CAREER grant to model longitudinal career pathways of engineering doctorates. She’s also the PI of a NSF research study examining academic and employment returns to student engagement in
cooperative education programs. Dr. Main is the recipient of the 2014 ASEE Educational Research Methods Apprentice Faculty Award, the 2015 Frontiers in
Education Faculty Fellow Award, and the 2018 Violet Haas
Memorial Fellowship, and very recently, the 2019 Betty Vetter Award
for Research from WEPAN. And on to Joyce’s left is Tim Luzader. Tim serves as Purdue’s Executive Director for Career Success and Director of the Center
for Career Opportunities. Following a brief tenure
working in the private sector, Tim began his career in
university career services in 1981 at WVU. His career services work included career counseling in
administrative positions at University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and Indiana University, no hissing. (audience laughs) Prior to his Purdue appointment in 2000, Tim served as the Career Center Director at Stony Brook University on Long Island. Having authored chapters in five books on career and job search related topics, Tim was awarded a Fulbright in 2005 to study higher education and society in Germany and Poland. Today Tim leads Purdue’s Career Readiness Assessment team, an initiative of the
University Innovation Alliance. So, welcome all of our panelists. (audience applause) This is a lot of expertise here on the career pathways of engineers. So, I’m going to ask each panelist first to just provide a couple of sentences on what each one does
to understand or improve the transition between engineering undergrad education and early career. I was just gonna go, so let’s just go. – [Ed] Well, the the
focus of our attention, and we have a research
grant called RED grant, Revolutionizing Engineering Departments, and our focus has been on the kinds of non-technical preparation that students receive while they’re here, and how that aligns or doesn’t align with what is useful for
them in their first position after they graduate, where these skills can include anything from
communication to team work, any of the other what people
call professional skills. And we’re trying to
understand a little bit more about the degree to which students feel they possess these skills and the degree to which they
have access to opportunities to build those skills while they’re here, and how we can just generally
bolster their readiness while they’re here and
give them those experiences through either curricular means or co-curricular/extra-curricular
means, as well. So, we study that and we try to figure out how we can advance our
mission in that regard. – [Sheri] I think two things I’ll mention where we’re puzzling through this question of student transitioning to
early career professional. One has been a partnership which actually has been with Purdue and
Rose-Hulman, San Jose State, Stanford, and at Virginia
Tech and Virginia Commonwealth to really look at what is the relationship between career development centers and a local advising that students get within departments or
student services office. And now the various
points of view on that, on who is there to support students and how well does that
work, and ultimately we want that work to
translate into materials and strategies for the
various stakeholders who really are there to support questions around career development. The other thing we do is we talk to a lot of early career engineers,
in terms of understanding the skills that are critical not only to their getting their work done and enjoying their work, but also for them to be thinking long
term about their career. And really that’s a
great source of thinking about how does that translate back into again conversations
that could or should be happening when students
are still students. – [Joyce] Good morning. Overall, my research group
looks at student pathways into engineering and into the work force. So, we look at their pathways from high school to college and into the full work force. So, specific to their
early career transitions, we’re looking at how participation in cooperative education
programs, in co-ops, and how that influences
students likelihood of attaining engineering work, and their early career salary and what it means for their longer term career pathways and salary outlook. – [Tim] So, I’m gonna ask a question before I give you my two sentences. Most of you are students. How many have found your way
to the CCO in Young Hall? Okay. Many of you, not quite half, though. Anyway, the Center for
Career Opportunities is the campus’
comprehensive career center. So, we serve all majors
at all degree levels in everything from career development, career coaching, helping students build job search tools, to actually being a hub
for employer engagement. And it may be a surprise to some of you, but last year we counted
1711 unique employers that were physically on
campus recruiting students. So, we have a very large employer engagement piece to that. – [Moderator] All right, thanks. So, I’m going to go through
sort of three questions for the panel, and then we’ll turn it over for your questions. And what I’m really asking them to do, is that they’re each sitting on a large body of knowledge, a lot of information about this. So, I’m going to ask a question in three parts, basically. Which is what is the one thing that you want to tell undergraduates about the transition
from undergrad to career that would improve the
transition for them. And then I’m going to
ask what’s the one thing you want employers to know and what’s the one thing you want engineering educators to know to assist with the transition. So, I think we’re just gonna
keep going down the row and have each question answered in turn. So, what would you tell students about the one thing you
think is most important for them to understand
about the transition. – [Ed] I think that when students are in the midst of the curriculum which, especially in engineering is so rigorous, they spend a lot of time
in deep technical details. They don’t always appreciate that there are other marketable skills that deserve more priority
than many times they get. And so, I would like to engage students in a discussion about
the potential trade-offs, of you know, taking this
course versus that course. So, one that provides depth versus one that provides breadth. So, this sort of, like this idea of a T-shaped engineer that people talk about sometimes. So, that’s the one thing I would want, to engage in more conversations with students about, because there’s a lot of value to the top of the T, even though there’s a lot of value to the depth, as well. – [Sheri] I think the first thing would be reassuring them
that it is a transition, and, in fact, life is a
whole series of transitions. And, I don’t know if
that’s calming, you know, that they hope you make a
choice and then you’re set. But, in fact, you’re always going to be confronted with the possibility of new roles and stepping into things where you’re uncertain. And so, kind of say, get used to that. I think another thing,
though, I’ll say two things. One is, start the thinking
about where you want to be and how you want to be well before, you know, your last semester. Because these a really
deep and hard questions around what is your world meaning, what is your work meaning, you know, how do those reflect where
you want to be situated in the next steps. What are your values? And these are really hard questions. And they’re easy to put aside because of the problem sets
and all those other things. So, think about the discipline of being in a community through a career development center, with friends, to have yourself actually reflect on those
very hard questions. – [Joyce] In terms of the one thing that I would like
undergraduates to think about as they transition into their careers, I think that mentorship, community, and social networks are super important. And, you know, reaching out
to other recent graduates who have just gone through the process is really important. Seeking out mentors who
have been in the workforce for a little longer to
get their perspective would be really helpful for that process. So, really reaching out to their communities for support. – [Tim] And, I wanna play
off that a little bit because, a lot of students
are genuinely surprised with how many resources
there are on this campus. So, we really encourage
you to take the time to make very well-informed decisions. As I mentioned earlier, you’re on a campus that’s
aggressively recruited by many kinds of employers. It is easy to just kind of pay attention to the brands and talk to the people who are being particularly savvy and good at talking with you, but there are great resources. One, for instance, is the
Career Research Portal, which is on the library server. But, the CCO and a few other departments, pay into that, to subscribe to these amazing robust databases. We also provide a lot
of special programming to bring organizations in that don’t have those brand names, like the Emerging Employer Career Fair, for startups and second stage companies. So, it’s really to be thoughtful and look beyond the glitz in the branding strategies of the high profile companies to really look and understand what’s out there and what the possibilities are. – [Moderator] All right thanks. So, what do you want employers to know? What can they do to better support early career engineers as
they enter their company? – [Ed] Me, again? – [Moderator] Yeah I’m
just gonna keep doing this. – [Ed] I’ve been thinking for a long time, at all of the universities that I’ve been employed with, that there’s such an opportunity to work with employers to figure out how well calibrated are our
graduates to their needs, and what are the specific
things that we can improve. And so, from an employer standpoint, I want them to understand that there are willing partners on our side to sort of figure out what does the curricular
and co-curricular experience need to look like to add value to everybody’s experience, not just on the employer side, but obviously the student
learning new skills and so forth, as well. And so, I think that there’s not enough of those conversations
that happen, you know, kind of routinely, and
there’s not enough action that comes out of those conversations now. But, there are people who
are willing on this side to do some work to make some
of those things improve. – [Sheri] I think one
thing would be related to continuing to reflect and revise what your onboarding strategies are. You know, being aware
that when somebody comes into a new environment,
there are so many acronyms, for instance, as a very,
you know, trivial thing, but they can stumble people up. And so, what is that
process of inculturating, and getting someone to really feel like they’re a vital member of a team. And so, reviewing that, and is it working, and is it working for all
of your new employees. The second thing, and
this was part of a talk I gave a couple of weeks ago at a conference on women’s
leadership in tech companies, and it was talking about rethink what your strategies are in partnering with universities. I mean I think there are the very valuable
traditional recruiting ones, but what can your relationship be with the program in
terms of guest speakers and field trips, and
maybe even co-research. I have a grant with Ford right now that’s critically looking at what is the internship experience of product development interns, and does it really affect their view Of the auto industry in general, and their view of
themselves, the students, their view of themselves as engineers. So, you know, think more creatively about what is this university/industry/firm kind of partnership, and how can it be actually more productive. – [Joyce] And so I would
agree with everything that’s been said before. I think it’s really
important to kind of think about the onboarding process, as well as the recruitment process, right. So, for employers who are interested in diversifying their
particular workforce, having an authentic relationship with colleges and universities, and really thinking about, you know, these different types of partnerships and how to get students
engaged, it’s really important. – [Tim] Amen to everything said. I’ll speak a little bit
more to the recruiting side because that’s what I do. Two things in particular,
I already mentioned the numbers to you, very
competitive for employers to meet their talent acquisition needs. There’s a lot of competition for them. So, we will talk to companies
a lot to look at freshman. Talk to them, see potential. One of the worst things I see at the industrial round table or one of the career fairs, when companies literally
wave off freshmen. They don’t want to talk to them yet. Come back in a couple years. That’s a big mistake. And really, not only
speaking with freshman, but engaging them, helping them be part of that career development, student development process. The other piece is we have some exceptionally wonderful and talented international students. And there are too many
companies who can sponsor, who can have these international students come on board through
CPT or OPT as interns, that don’t. And we really confront
them on that because, there is so much that they bring from a cultural standpoint, from an academic standpoint,
to the workplace. So, really freshman and
international students is really what we have some of those tough conversations
with with employers. – [Moderator] Okay, so before
we go on to the question about engineering educators, I’m gonna change things
up and ask a follow-up. Which is, what are the
points of disconnection for students entering the workforce? How are their expectations if not met, and I don’t necessarily
mean that in a negative way, but what surprises them about what they think their first
job is going to be like and what their experience typically is. And this one, I may ask for volunteers, I don’t want to put
each of you on the spot, but anybody that wants to … Sheri – [Sheri] So, one of the things I’ve heard from students and employers is, while it’s great in the academy that we’re putting students on teams, and really letting them focus
for a semester or quarter, for a long period of time on a project, taking it from a need all the way through, students may come in now to the work force expecting that’s what teams are, and that people will be co-located and you’ll have lots of time together and you’ll eat lunch together. And the reality of most organizations are, being on a team, maybe you never actually meet your team members, and you’re on the project for two weeks because you have a particular expertise that they need to draw in. So, kind of a mismatch
on what a team means. So, you know, I think that
the early career engineer needs to figure out, you know, how to be on now what a team is in whatever organization
there is to be productive. You know, I think another thing that working through is, you may be the only
twenty-something in the work group, and so figuring out socially, what does it mean to
connect with a wider range of people in terms of
age, and connect as peers. Because, you know, the university kind of has a hierarchy of
professors and all that, but now you’re in a group where you are on a level line, and so what does that mean socially. So, I think that’s, you
know, two of the things. – [Moderator] Tim? – [Tim] And, I would
certainly speak that, culture, ’cause, going from a campus culture to a work culture can be very different. Some of you experience this
in your first internship or your first co-op assignment. Others of you may not experience it until you graduate from
college and go into that. There are certain things
you’re used to on campus, grades, for instance,
that you’re essentially gonna put a lot of effort into, a very specific amount of
time, maybe sixteen weeks. I know some students will
calculate how much effort they put into certain classes
to get to a certain GPA threshold and maybe they don’t work quite as hard in some as other’s. That’s different in a work setting. You really, oftentimes,
don’t have that option. You need to really put forth great effort across the board. Hours. A lot of students, especially as you become upperclassmen, you
have a little more control. If you don’t want to take
those early morning classes, you can adjust your calendars accordingly. Sometimes you don’t have
that kind of flexibility within a work setting. You may have early morning meetings. You may need to be involved at hours you’re not used to being involved. Social life, it can be a big thing. I’m sure nobody here has put on a costume and was 4:00AM among the
bars for breakfast club. You probably can’t pull that off regularly when you’re in a work setting. Getting plenty of rest, exercise, really being at your
best is very important. And even simple things like attire. There is many work
settings that you’ll be in where it is pretty casual. You don’t see a lot of
coats and ties anymore, depending on the industry
and the work setting, but nor are you seeing people come in in cutoff jeans and these
content-flavored t-shirts. So, there’s adjustments at
a lot of different levels and I think adjusting to that culture, from the campus to the world of work, can be a surprise. – [Ed] We’ve also talked
to a lot of students, interviewed a lot of students, who have had internships
and co-op assignments. And on the one hand they often report back a sense of pride that they
have been well prepared to do certain elements of their job. So, the Purdue students, the Purdue engineers in particular, are not afraid of hard work, and that they take that to their job. And they’re also technically
very well prepared, so they have a skill set that allows them to contribute to whatever the mission is. However, they also have nowhere to hide and they have to, perhaps
for the first time, confront things that they
maybe aren’t so good at. And that is some of the things that you all are mentioning, which is adjusting to a new culture in the organization or doing some sort of remote teaming or there are, you know,
whatever it might be. And I think that part of the transition, whether it’s to a co-op job
to a permanent position, is just managing and knowing that it’s not all going to be, you know, entirely smooth, and you’re gonna learn things about yourself. And it’s just been a set
of interesting discussions with people who come back
from a co-op assignment and can reflect on that. And it helps them, sort of think through, what are the things I need to to do to improve so that next time it goes a little bit more smoothly. – [Moderator] Joyce, do
you have anything to add? – [Joyce] Yes, so, you know,
there are a lot of students who do experience a mismatch between their own expectations about what work is going to be like and what the reality is
once they do start working. But since my research
group primarily talks with students who had co-op experiences and internship experiences, these kind of early work experience actually helps mitigate a lot of some of that, you know, discord, right. So, you know, it’s a
good way to try to kinda, you know, match up the reality between expectations,
so get more consistency. – [Moderator] Thanks. All right. So now, and I think this is a nice segue, because we’ve been talking about sort of how do engineering students,
as they go to co-op, how do they extract lessons from that, what do they learn about themselves. So, what are the things
that engineering educators ought to know about
better preparing students for that transition? What are the things
that can help engineers adapt to their early career pathways? – [Ed] This is a tough question because, I think in the abstract you can talk to engineering educators, and they will say, yes, we should do a better job
of this or this or this. But then, where the rubber meets the road, it’s not often their job
to do that thing, right. So, there’s always a question of, well, sure we should do this better, but who’s going to do that. I teach, you know, thermodynamics, or I teach transport, or whatever I teach. It’s not my job to teach teaming, or it’s not my job to teach, you know, professional skills, or communication, or whatever it is. So, I think there is some broad agreement that there are things
that we can do better, and it’s really difficult
to have those conversations to figure out how to enact what we think we ought to do. And it’s just a challenge
across the university, not just in this dimension, but there’s a whole bunch
of other conversations we could or should be having
that are also a challenge, by that state of affairs. But there is a way that
we can do this, right. There are enough people, I think, that believe in moving
in certain directions, that it’s possible, but it’s really hard. And that’s the challenge we always face. – [Moderator] Sheri? – [Sheri] Sure. You know, asking what
engineering educators can do to work in this
space is interesting for the reasons Ed talked about. And, for a second reason, many faculty have actually not worked in industry. And so, we’re talking about a world, you know, we’re certainly
engaged in a real world, the academy is a real world, and an organization and all the issues that are in a manufacturing
firm, you know, are replicated here. But we haven’t necessarily looked in and been in an environment
where, you know, a product is being produced
in terms of hardware. And so, you know, we can
provide some of that, but I think, again, the relationships with
industry as coaches, we have been experimenting at Stanford for the last five maybe 10 years. I’m actually having a
course for academic credit called Designing Your Life, actually, and there’s a book by Dave
Evans and Bill Burnett that really gives students
time in the course to struggle with these questions. I offer a version of
it for Ph.D. students. Believe it or not, Ph.D.
students, you know, a year or two years before they finish, are stumped by these questions, too, about, you know, what I
want to do with my life. So, you know, and Dave
and Bill really have the, I’ll say the academic chops, to really be working in that space of questioning what do
you want out of life. So, I think making sure there is space in a student’s life to ponder and struggle with these incredibly important questions. – [Joyce] In terms of, you know, what I would say to
faculty and instructors, you know, be aware of the
resources available on campus, like CCO, so if students
ask you about, you know, working in industry you can, you know, recommend the places that they could go to get more information. Second, a lot of faculty
already have a lot of, you know, opportunities
in their own classes for students to develop
professional skills. That’s already embedded in
a lot of the curriculum. So, perhaps better signposting
that they’re there, just calling them out
and saying, you know, these skills are going
to be important later for when you get into the workforce. I think, you know, kind of flagging it for students will help them think about how they can
translate that to later. – [Tim] You know, the term mentorship can be a scary term to faculty, and it really is about how it’s defined. I know a lot of people,
when they think of mentors, they think, okay, they need to commit like eight to 10 hours
a week to each student. Obviously, time will pass by quickly. It’s more than that definition. In our conversations with students, a simple thing that some students want is just to engage a faculty to learn about their contacts, who is it that they can connect to, maybe as a prospective
internship provider, or as a prospective
hire when they graduate, who can they connect with as it relates to a particular research. So, mentoring, there can
be value to the student in a number of ways beyond
a big time commitment for faculty with each of their students, which really just isn’t realistic. So, being willing to be available, to truly be open and engaged, to have those kinds of
conversations with students that help and go a long way. And we learned that a number years ago with the Gallup Purdue survey, in how alums even 30
years out really valued having that kind of
connection with faculty. – [Sheri] Can I say one more thing? So, I know we’re talking
undergraduate to workforce, but I think also those conversations with faculty can plant seeds about graduate education. And you know the conversation around what are you thinking
about your future is, it seems like you’ve really liked these kind of classes, might you think about studying those more in the future. And, you know, there are some students, maybe because of their background, who’ve never thought about graduate school as an option, either
immediately after they graduate, but longer term as they
really see what their needs may be to actually get where they want in their career. So, that’s another thing
of reminding students they have a range of options
in their longer career. – [Moderator] Great, thanks. So, it’s your time folks. So, this is the risky thing
to do on a Friday morning, to say, oh yeah, the audience is going to ask questions. So, I’m trusting you all. And please use the mic. So, there are mics traveling,
and we are recording, so we want to make sure, first, that people can hear you, but also that we’re
recording your question. (microphone malfunctions) (audience laughs) – [Moderator] I’ll repeat questions. – [Audience Member] … is also good, very good in engineering and science. And that your students don’t
have to declare a major until after their second year, I think. Do you find or do you feel
that that makes a difference in your graduates compared to graduates from other schools, that do not have maybe such richness in terms of breadth? – [Sheri] I do think it does, you know, in that, and there’s no quality judgment. I mean, I think it’s a difference, our students may graduate
in mechanical engineering and never having taken a controls class. I suspect that MEs here take
at least one controls class? Five or six. (audience laughs) So, there is going to
be more technical chops in that particular thing. 50% of our undergraduates in ME go abroad for a whole quarter, and
they’re studying in Moscow or Kyoto or Madrid or Berlin or Santiago. So, that’s a different
component of education in terms of being in the world. And, again, no value judgments, but it will represent a
different set of views. And I think employers
are very aware of that, and that they need a range of engineers with these different points of view to actually have a vital
vibrant organization. – [Ed] Can I say, too? – [Moderator] Sure. – [Ed] I used to work at
a liberal arts institution with an engineering school and now I work at an
engineering institution with some other things. – [Moderator] A very comprehensive
land-grant university, am I wrong? Am I wrong? – [Ed] Amen. (Moderator laughs) But my point is that
when I talk to students, the kinds of jobs that
they get are different. And the kinds of jobs for
which people come to recruit are somewhat different, too. And I think it reflects the identity of the institution. Yeah, it’s not a value judgments it’s just an access to opportunity is slightly different. So, I think it makes a difference. I’m not sure it’s, you
know, it’s not good or bad, it’s sort of an observation that is. It’s two different models
of ways that things happen. – [Sheri] And I will also add about 50% of our ME majors stay on
for a master’s degree. And they do that, we
call it a co-term degree, where you get your master’s
and your bachelor’s both at the end of five years. And, in part, because they’re still hungry for more technical, you know, they feel like they need some more well-roundedness in
particular areas of ME. So, there’s also this cost, if you will, to a student who wants
to go more in depth, feeling like they need
that additional fifth year. – [Audience Member] Thank
you each for your time. We appreciate that you are here and giving us the
information that you are. As a first year engineering professor, and my research is really basically on that early side K-12 area, we work really hard to help our students understand the diversity
issues around women in the workforce, and
that it’s very important to have multiple perspectives, value of the international experiences of your young colleagues with you. And, you know, I think that, what I see is, in the academy here, our students are getting a diverse, and sometimes mixed message about what that’s supposed to be. And I heard a story from a young woman, who has come to our
program, she’s graduating, she went to interview at a company, she told me this yesterday, that she turned down an offer because it was a very
hierarchical structure and the person who was
interviewing her said, be prepared, you’re going
to have to get dirty, this is not a nice clean job. It sounded somewhat
sexist in the way that … she declined the job. So, I feel like there’s a mismatch, and I don’t think that’s
true of all companies, of course, but I think
it’s still a problem. So, what are your thoughts on this issue? And how do we continue to make it better? And how do we help all levels, and not just the early ones start to think about this and and address
that sort of problem. – [Tim] If I can comment
quickly, this is also fresh, each semester I go into
a computer science class, and it’s part of multi-generations
in the workplace, and it’s a really neat class because each person represents
a different generation, I’m the baby obviously, and we really describe workplaces that are really heavy
within those generations. And it’s very interesting to engage our students in that Q&A. We actually ask them which they prefer. And it’s been fun over the years between the millennials
and I guess now the Gen Zs in their view of these things. But, to make a long story short, I think in some ways
that you can integrate that into the classroom, it will really begin
to prepare and address some of the sensitivity of those areas will be helpful. And you’re right there are some industries that are exactly as the
company that you describe, and there are others that are frankly far more progressive. So, that goes back to the student research about what’s a good fit for them. – [Sheri] I teach a course called Expanding Engineering Limits:
Culture Diversity and Equity, and there’s usually
about 80 students in it who come to the class
for multiple reasons. It counts as one of the
general education things on engaging diversity. But many of them also felt slights or not belonging at certain points during their education, and even white males, you know, not a fit. And so we talk about the social science and reread the social science. And then we talk about the realities of the workplace, and that work places are also struggling
with questions of equity and a distribution of types of people, and unbiased assessment of performance, And sometimes the students get discouraged because isn’t there a
perfect company already, that I can step into
and it just is all fair. And the reality is, there isn’t and they have to be part of actually making the change in the long run. So, how can we equip them with strategies and skills and wisdom to
make some good choices, but also say they may have to be activists and figure out what that means
in certain organizations. We also talk about them
learning to read organizations, you know, reading what
an organization says on their website about diversity, and then doing information interviewing to talk to people about
what is the reality of working in a particular situation. So, in some ways, the
academy is more advanced in talking about these issues, but in some ways we aren’t. And I think students
really need to be aware that they’re not going
to find the perfect fit. But, you know, where can they find one that they figure out they can flourish and actually have impact. – [Moderator] So, there was a
question in the back corner. Oh, it’s Kerry. – [Audience Member] Hi. I’ll stand up so that you can see me. My question is for Sheri, since you’re from outside the university. So, here there seems
to be a lot of emphasis on sort of speeding up
the undergrad degree to get students to be working faster, the idea being that the faster they can finish their degree, they can save money. And so I’m kind of curious because what you’re talking
about is definitely … saying 50% of MEs are getting a master’s, that’s definitely not speeding things up. I mean it’s taking longer
and so I know some of us have our own feelings about this. From an outside perspective, I was kind of curious if you could kind of talk about talents. – [Sheri] You know, and
there’s the tension of, if you read the Engineer 20/20 report, new skills that are needed, too, so we want to actually
stuff more into that degree. I would say, you know,
many of our students actually come in with a
full year of AP units, so I also have to say that, in terms of their math and science, so they’re able to actually start engineering earlier. So, they actually may do
both degrees in four years. So, sometimes it’s not extending
it out to a fifth year. So, that’s a little bit of a footnote. You know, I think there’s the hurry up, but I think we also have to recognize those years of traditional students and there are non-traditional, you know, students in their thirties. But that age from 18-22, and adolescence actually goes into your mid to late twenties, you know, it’s not just a teenage thing, so is it really great to rush it to get into the workforce or actually savor that
time to muck around, be uncertain, to, you know,
figure out who you are. So, I’ve got conflicted feelings. I know Germany has really struggled on this in employment thing for a couple of reasons. Their high school used
to go up through 13, so students were that older. They had mandatory service, and that was either in the military or working on a service organization. And then their first degree
was a five year degree, it was the Diplom. They’ve gone now to more of our system, in terms of their
bachelor’s is three years, there’s no mandatory service anymore, and their high school is twelve years now. And so employers are really struggling that these individuals are now coming in like three to four years
younger, and really, developmentally, are at a different place in terms of tackling problems. So, I’m not sure we just want to rush it. – [Moderator] Question in the front. – [Audience Member] Hello. So, my question comes from a place of I’ve worked in very small companies in different areas. And sometimes, you know,
it’s like you said, you’re the only 20 person there. What would you suggest
on how to meet new people in a new city or how to really have that work life balance when
you don’t have anyone in your company that looks like you? – [Moderator] Suggestions for … – [Sheri] Yeah. I was just having this conversation with an advisee before I came out here. For her, her faith is
a really important part of who she is, and so
she’s really recognizing finding a church or a synagogue, you know, to actually be part of that. She’s also an athlete, so, you know, figuring out where’s the gym that she can can be joining. And, you know, I’ve had other students who also recognize, I’m
remembering, actually, it was a young woman, and
I won’t name the company, but everyone there was much older and they were really
into American football. And she really, she knew nothing about American football. She actually decided she needed to learn something about American
football so that, you know, she could open up the conversation. And actually she found that
opened the conversation on a whole set of things once she kind of knew the
lingo and the acronyms and all that a little bit with football. So, sometimes you need to
actually make connections and realize that age
doesn’t have to be a barrier in terms of talking about life and all of its trauma and drama. – [Tim] Social networking. You have a LinkedIn account? So, there exists, I don’t
know if you’re already in the group, but there is a Purdue Engineering and
Alumni Association group, and we partnered with them. So, they grew it first with
about 6000-7000 alumni, and then we occasionally
invite students to join. A lot of these alumni are a little older, they want to mentor, they want to help make connections. So, that is a great way to join and just do a little bit of a deep dive, where you can find those with an affinity. Some might be from your home town, some may be living where you plan to live. And invite conversation that way So, once you connect one then it’s good. The other thing is check the Purdue Alumni Association and see if there’s an
alumni chapter close by, because that’s also a great
way to make connections. – [Moderators] And there
are twenty-something groups around. I’m Anita. I just moved here two years ago, so I’m doing the same thing
looking for community. And I’ve noticed a lot of
things for twenty-somethings that I wouldn’t go to, right. So, you know, you see
those Facebook and … Meet up’s a little weird here, because there’s not quite enough people, so depending on how
populated the place is, you can use different tools. Somewhere in the back. Here and then over there. – [Audience Member] Hello. So, a lot of what’s
been talked about today is this disconnect in the transition, and maybe what undergraduate students and, in some cases, graduate students, lack as they go to a workplace setting. From more of a, you know, pros model, what are some things that millennials, and Gen, what is it after millennials … – [Moderator] Z. – [Audience Member] Gen Z, okay. What are things that millennials
and Gen Z are assets, and they can bring to companies, and how can we also help them realize that this is an asset that they bring? Because they’re living in the world, they don’t see it necessarily as an asset, they just see how it is. But what are those strengths
that we, as educators, can help of them realize
that they bring to companies? – [Ed] We talk to students all the time, through our research, and
basically what I said before, is that they are definitely
not afraid of hard work, they’re passionate about engineering, and acquiring skills and
acquiring new experiences that test them, in terms of their ability to function as an engineer. And, you know, they sort of
have that youthful energy that goes with it sometimes. And so I think that’s all really positive. It’s even more positive if they come with a certain amount of curiosity or that kind of openness
to new experience. I don’t know if that’s
exactly characteristic of the whole generation, but if that is part of the package, that’s really positive, too. And so I think those are
things that they bring, you know, in our case,
they bring with them here, and we help them sharpen them up. And then they go out and they can really deploy those skills in
a pretty positive way. – [Sheri] I would to that add a comfort with technology and social media, and you may be going into an organization that’s adopting those things, and your comfort could be
a real asset to a group. You know I think at the same time you need to maybe recognize playing a role of almost a teacher, because you know there may be others who’ve done things the
old way or another way and it’s more comfortable, and so how do you play
a role in helping others learn to be comfortable
with something new. – [Tim] And I think playing on that, the one thing we know from trending data with millennials and Gen
Z is this real passion for wanting to contribute to society, for community service, for making a difference in the world. And I’ve been fascinated over my years in career services to see how companies sell themselves to prospective hires. And many of the companies
are going to talk about that, that they are making some
kind of contribution, they may partner with certain charities or certain service organizations. So that is something that as a generation is a really great way to connect. – [Moderator] And I’m gonna flag for folks that Professor Pilotte, our professor Practice
in Engineering Education, has published a book
called Millennial Reset, which is all about that question of what millennials bring and sort of how to help industry folks learn what those assets are and how to welcome millennials and make the most of what they bring to value add in different settings. – [Tim] And I read the
book and it’s fantastic. – [Audience Member] I’d like to ask you about the current family
foundations investment in changing engineering education to include the entrepreneurial mindset. They’ve chosen to invest
over 30 million dollars in engineering educators, but they’ve chosen schools that value teaching over research, for the most part, like Mount Union, Ohio Northern, Valparaiso, Rose-Hulman. What are the implications of that, in terms of what you’ve
been talking about, or in Ed’s case, changing faculty, because they’ve chosen to invest where they think they can
change courses and faculty, and, by the way, it’s not here. – [Moderator] Although, I had
someone from a KEEN campus, basically tell me that I had to do it. I had to make Purdue a KEEN campus. So, I don’t know if that’s changed, but are you involved with them, Sheri? So, I don’t know that anybody here has a lot of expertise, but I will say I think they’re
broadening their campuses for this, so they did start. In fact, I was on a small teaching campus that couldn’t get into KEEN because we proposed a social
entrepreneurship project when they, at that time
they weren’t doing that, now they are. So there’s a interesting kind of shift in how they’re building
their change movement. – [Joyce] So some of our faculty do have some research partnerships
in this space with them, so even though we’re
not officially a campus, we are working with them and bringing some of the things that are being linked
to our campus, as well. So there are our partnerships. – [Ed] But I think to your point, it’s a much longer conversation than we have time for here, about the way that individual people prioritize how they spend their time and what they choose to invest in and what they choose to not invest in, in this case I’m talking about faculty, because a lot of these changes just can’t happen without faculty direct, very sort of close and
diligent, and in some cases, very long term involvement. And you’re right, not every campus has a culture in which that
can happen very easily. So I mean I don’t know what the answer is but there’s a very long
set of what would you say, sort of incentives and
rewards and constraints and so forth that make that possible in certain places and not
as possible in other places. So, I agree that it’s a
big perennial problem, challenge to sort of figure out what we can do within our environment. – [Moderator] All right,
we have seven more minutes. More questions? Here’s one in the front. – [Audience Member] Thank
you all for being here today. Some of you actually brought up some of these relevant points about that T-shape curriculum, Kerry asked about the More in Four. I want to ask, I feel
like this panel today is about lining up students
and moving into workforce. But education should be more than just preparing
students for workforce. What would you tell legislators who are, so we’re at a public university, there’s a decrease in public
funding for public education, including in higher education, what would you tell legislators
about the broader need for a broader education
than just preparing engineering students for workforce. Thank you. – [Moderator] I’ll give you
a minute to think about it. It looks like Joyce might have something. – [Joyce] So without the
infanta man Karl Spence as well as Karen Watson we’re thinking about proposing a reinvigoration
of the Morrill Act to try to bring in more funds to public research universities to focus on engineering
the mechanical arts as well as liberal arts, so all together. – [Moderator] Yeah, and
that’s an important thing people don’t realize
about the Morrill Act, the phrase, you know,
agriculture and mechanical arts gets quoted a lot, but
the rest of that sentence has liberal arts in it, so it was always meant to be comprehensive education for everybody. That was the vision. – [Sheri] I think this is a message, not only to legislatures, but the public in general is our education is too expensive in the United States. I mean the debt that you know students take on for this thing that they hope will make their life better or give them more opportunities
is just unreasonable. I mean when you look at other systems, in Germany there was student uprisings when they actually were going to charge like 300 Euros a semester
for their education. And so the public commitment to saying this is a public good as opposed to a personal thing, it needs to be part of the shift back. – [Moderator] Anyone else? – [Audience Member] So, you were talking about how freshman international students are the ones who struggled the most to obtain the company’s attention. Because of lack of experience I’m may say. So, me as an international student and as a freshmen student, how could we better
approach these companies in order for them to notice us, so since we just want to
learn about the companies so we can decide what
to do with our future? – [Tim] Very good question. I think one piece of advice that I would give quickly to freshmen, because sometimes they’ll go to places like the industrial round table and they encounter one or two companies who are just not open to
having a conversation, they give up too easily. In reality, a lot of companies want to have those conversations. In addition to the Career Fair formats, they’re here for information sessions. In some cases they may
be in the classrooms, they may be here in
even more informal ways. So I think having the
confidence to persevere and get in front of the companies, and approach them in a way as I know I’m a freshman and your internships might be here for someone more experienced but I really am interested
in your company. As a matter of fact, and that’s where you go to
the Career Research Portal and you learn what you can
about these organizations. So essentially you get them interested in knowing that you’re a prospective hire at some point in the future. And if you go to that portal and look at some of those databases and you learn more about the company, it would just give you confidence that you can have the kind of conversation that’s gonna make you much more attractive to them as a candidate. – [Moderator] And a lot
of the same recruiters come year after year. So you could meet somebody
in your first year and then see them again
when you’re a sophomore and again when you’re a junior and you’re building a relationship. And so to think about
the long game as well even if they’re not hiring first years, they might, you know, you can come back. – [Tim] And something to know
as an international student, companies might have this across the board we don’t talk to international students, but I can tell you for a fact, developing those kinds of relationships, they may not want to advertise it, ’cause they’re afraid there will
be a cast of thousands that want to talk to them, but establish those relationships and you may be surprised that they’ll figure out a way to try to work you in and provide you with that
internship experience. So don’t take we don’t
hire internship always as a kind of a black and
white carved in cement issue. – [Ed] Can I object to it, I’m connecting Alice’s point to this point, is that it
seems like it’s very easy to play the short game
in a lot of respects. So, legislatures might have
a relatively near-term view or students or employers
might have a near term-view, but I think this idea of
playing the long game, because I mean for better or worse you’re not gonna be able to
retire for like 50 years. So, it is a very long game. And that’s really important advice that’s really, the connection there was sort of interesting. – [Moderator] All right,
we have one minute. So, any final thoughts from the panel? – [Sheri] Have a really good summer. I’m envious. – [Tim] The CCO does not
shut down for the summer, so for students who are here that want to come utilize our services, we have drop-in hours in the afternoon. During the fall and early spring our drop-in hours are 10:00-4:00, Monday through Friday. So take advantage of the resources. Plus there’s a lot fewer students in our offices in the summer. You get a lot of attention. – [Moderator] All right, will you join me in thanking our panel? (applause)

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