Date of Conferral

2017

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

James Valadez

Abstract

Engineering students entering the workforce often struggle to meet the competency expectations of their employers. Guided by constructivist theory, the purpose of this case study was to understand engineers' experiences of engineering education, deficiencies in practical skills, and the self-learning methods they employed to advance their technical and professional competencies. Working engineers were asked about their experiences overcoming practical skill deficiencies and bridging the gap between education and practice. Interviews with 15 chemical, civil, mechanical, and electrical engineers were analyzed by coding for common statements and identifying themes. Firsthand experiences of the participants captured 3 themes: overall perceptions of engineering education, deficiencies in skills, and self-learning experiences. According to study findings, engineering education did not supply sufficient practical skills for working engineers. The study also provided descriptions of training and self-learning methods employed by practicing engineers to advance their technical and professional competencies. The study found that although universities might provide some practical skills through industry collaboration, engineering graduates still required professional development to ensure a smooth transition from academic learner to acclimated working engineer. The project is a practical training, developed for recent graduates, that could achieve positive social change by making strides toward bridging the gap between theory and practice for the participants. This study may also incite positive social change as it contributes to the evidence that there is a lack of practical experience in colleges of engineering, which may therefore improve their curriculum.