The Industry Scholars Program: An Immersive Professional
Experience for Undergraduates
A goal of our NSF-funded Revolutionizing Engineering and Computer Science Departments (RED) Grant is to infuse professional skills into students and to enhance the capacity of faculty to help teach those skills. One of our approaches to accomplish this goal was to elicit the help of the school advisory board.
The Industry Advisory Board is comprised of representatives from top companies in engineering consulting, mobility, energy, computing, engineering design, and health care; all of which saw an immediate need for the development of this program. After a briefing on the RED grant, the advisory board developed the Industry Scholars Program (ISP) that targets at first and second year engineering students. The industry led ISP brings together a cohort of students, faculty and industry to address professional skills and development focusing on many of the gaps between formal education and the workplace that industry experiences. In addition, the program provides internship and mentoring opportunities for these students.
The year-long program, which was first launched in Spring 2017, is segmented into three terms: (1) Spring (2) Summer, and (3) Fall. The spring term introduced the first cohort of Industry Scholars to professional skills such as teamwork, emotional intelligence, and communication in a series of experiential workshops. The summer term afforded students an opportunity to use the technical skills acquired in their classes with the professional skills acquired in their spring workshops through an industry internship. Students engaged in this internship for the majority of the summer months, following which the students were required to present their internship experience and reflect on how the ISP impacted their summer professional experience. The third and final term of the first ISP cohort has recently launched and aims to expose students to additional professional skills through workshops similar to those from the Spring, but also through industry tours/visits that provide students an experiential look at other companies outside that which they experienced during the summer.
This paper discusses the structure of the ISP, the developed programmatic elements, the internship result, and an evolving mentoring program. Also presented is a survey conducted by the industry board on the students and a survey of industry conducted by an external evaluation team.
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