The Engineering Ambassadors Network Training is a two-and-a-half day intensive professional development event for students who have been accepted into an Engineering Ambassador program. The workshop format was originally conceived as a vehicle for training new ambassadors to deliver messages about the immense potential of engineering. Training focuses on creating outreach presentations that achieve maximum impact through advanced communication techniques. Post-workshop surveys reveal high levels of perceived confidence and readiness. However, deeper insights into the impact of the training have arisen from post-workshop interviews, in which participants report that the experience is transformative and that the Engineering Ambassador mission has much meaning for them personally and professionally. Articulating the nature and implications of such impacts is the focus of this paper.
The study described in this paper synthesizes six purposefully diverse interviews. The research was guided by three questions: How do components of individuals’ role identities combine to inform the motivation to become an Engineering Ambassador? How does the training crystallize students’ self-perceptions of themselves as professionals and ambassadors for the field of engineering? Which features of the workshop emerge as the most powerful experiences for triggering the formulation of an Engineering Ambassador role identity?
Analyses reveal students’ substantial personal investment in their role as an engineering student and an emerging ambassador. The decision to participate is often driven by personal interests and experiences, and is tied to a deep sense of importance for the work. Similarly, choice of presentation topic is also often personal. Presentation skills reveal new courses of future action; ambassadors describe increases in confidence and many report using the skills immediately. Opportunities to meet other ambassadors are singled out as a major benefit, and students use newly acquired programmatic knowledge to shape the role expectations at their institution. The study’s findings provide examples of how Engineering Ambassadors Network training leverages the emerging professional role identities of engineering students, and offer insights into training program features that increase new participants’ commitments to the mission of the organization and the field of engineering as a whole.
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