2021 CoNECD

Welcoming Student Veterans to Engineering: An Interactive Session for Faculty and Administrators

Presented at CoNECD Session : Day 1 Slot 1 Technical Session 2

Undergraduate education is enrolling an increasing number of veterans and approximately 14% of veterans major in STEM. Veterans offer the potential to diversify engineering education because they are typically older and more racially diverse than their traditional first time in college counterparts. This interactive session for faculty and administrators shares practical tips for welcoming student veterans to engineering. We begin with a brief overview of the national context for veterans in higher education generally and engineering specifically. We then introduce our five-year study of student veterans in engineering (SVEs) which sought to answer these four research questions: 1) Why do veterans pursue a Bachelor’s degree in engineering? 2) How do military experiences shape student veterans’ educational experiences? 3) What are the experiences of student veterans in engineering education? 4) How do institutions support veterans in engineering education? This session focuses on the fourth question. In our qualitative study, we collected interview and focus group data from key informants (e.g., veterans’ services officials, admissions, advisors, counselors, etc.) and student veterans in engineering (SVEs) themselves on four campuses. We use an asset-based approact to frame our research while acknowledging challenges that many veterans face. Key assets brought by veterans include discipline, persistence, maturity, leadership, teamwork, and technical training. Key challenges include not fitting in, impatience with younger students, and service-related injuries. Faculty can accommodate veterans through seating preferences, accommodating multiple learning styles, and acknowledging their service. We conclude with promising practices encountered at our four study institutions. Session participants will have the opportunity to share their experiences on their campuses with student veterans and promising practices that they have implemented. The presenters will provide specific tips and feedback that can be immediately implemented by attendees when they return to their home campus.

  1. Dr. Catherine E. Brawner Research Triangle Educational Consultants [biography]
  2. Dr. Catherine Mobley Clemson University [biography]
  3. Dr. Joyce B. Main Orcid 16x16http://orcid.org/0000-0002-3984-533X Purdue University-Main Campus, West Lafayette (College of Engineering) [biography]
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For those interested in:

  • engineering
  • undergraduate
  • veterans
  • Broadening Participation in Engineering and Engineering Technology