Designing a better experience: A qualitative investigation of student engineering internships
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Paknejad, Mohammad R.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education play a very important role in preparing students with skills necessary to obtain better jobs, solve realworld challenges, and compete in the global economy. STEM education develops critical thinking and the ability to solve complex problems. Research showed that 8 out of 10 most desired employees were the ones with STEM education like electrical engineering or computer science, yet the United States has fallen in STEM ranking among advanced nations. Additionally, local firms are finding it difficult to recruit the STEM professionals they need be successful in business, and while STEM education is in great demand, lack of desired skills continues to challenge the industry and the new engineering graduates. A review of the literature identified gaps in skills such as technical skills, software skills, soft skills, and organizational culture and attributed these gaps partially to lack of collaboration between the industry and academia. Literature suggested changes to the engineering curriculum to narrow this gap between what students study and what is expected of them when they start a new career. In this qualitative research, the author used a phenomenological approached to answer the research questions. The author interviewed industry experts and inquired about the engineering internship best practices. The research results revealed critical skills which are grouped under four categories or main themes. Industry leaders can develop effective engineering internships based on these themes to prepare the next generation of young women and men to start a new career in engineering, reduce on the job training time, and increase innovation and productivity.
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