Every year, around 35% of engineering graduates (mainly female and ethnic minority graduates) in the UK choose roles outside engineering. Given that engineering disciplines struggle to attract recruits, this represents a significant loss of qualified talent the profession can ill afford. A possible reason why engineers choose not to practise after qualifying may be that they have not developed a professional engineering identity during their engineering education. Research shows that engineering identity is an important indicator of persistence in both engineering education and the engineering profession. The purpose of this research is to gain a deeper understanding into the process of engineering identity formation in undergraduates studying for an engineering apprenticeship degree in England, with a view to proposing changes to engineering education that may better support the development of an engineering identity. A qualitative methodology is well-suited to the study of how engineering identity develops in engineering students, given that we are interested in the personal experiences of engineering students rather than in measuring standardised outcomes. This research is inspired by narrative inquiry through the use of life story interviews (LSI). This paper outlines the findings of a preliminary study with first and final year students. The findings presented are surprising in that they seem to indicate that the four years of a degree apprenticeship have little impact on students’ identification with engineering. Going forward, engineering educators need to consider how the development of an engineering identity can be supported in engineering education.
|Number of pages
|Journal of Design & Technology Education
|Published - 7 Nov 2021