Example: Texas A&M Students Connect Academics with Careers
In addition to building links between topics, engineering students also want to glimpse connections between their academic studies and their perceptions of careers after graduation. The College of Engineering uses three methods to build links between employers and students: (1) industry-night discussions, (2) case studies, and (3) industry-sponsored workshops.
Industry Night Discussions Students in the second-semester engineering course attend Industry Night Discussions. The purpose of Industry Night is to share information about a particular industry in an effort to educate students about the different fields in engineering. The Industry Night presentations have multiple goals: (1) to excite the students about engineering; (2) to help them to make a commitment to engineering; (3) to provide engineering industrial information; (4) to talk about real-world engineering problems; and (5) to provide information for students to aid in deciding majors.
Industry Case Studies Case studies are an effort to demonstrate "real world" engineering, that engineers work in teams, and the problem-solving process to currently enrolled engineering students. Companies usually send a team of 2 to 8 engineers who spend their day with students in an engineering course, typically a first semester, freshman engineering course. This team typically presents a 1520-minute overview of a problem encountered in their company or industry. Students break into assigned teams, generate possible solutions to the problem, and then student teams present their solutions to the class. In the discussion that follows, the industry team presents the solution selected at their company and reviews the major contributing factors to the decision. In addition, the students are able to enter into a question-and-answer period with engineers from industry about their work environment, greatest challenges, rewards, etc.
Industry-sponsored Workshops When the LCs were established for all entering engineering students, teaming was integrated into the classroom. Teaming was new for many of the faculty as well as most of the entering high school students. When team conflicts arose, faculty members were uncomfortable facilitating the student team conflicts. When the issue of conflict in teams was raised with industry members, they reported that similar issues arose in industry. They suggested that workshops on diversity or valuing differences had been helpful in the workplace and might help in the classroom. So, the College of Engineering asked industry trainers to come to the college and offer the workshops to the first-year students. The workshops are highly interactive and typically have 7080 in each workshop. The college hosts from 400 to 700 students each year.