ASQ - Education Division

Entry of Undergraduate Engineering Students into Work-Related Organizations and Occupational Roles Through a Co-op Program

Abstract: Entry of Undergraduate Engineering Studeents into Work-Related Organizations and Occupational Roles Through a Co-op Program by Chris Plouff, Grand Valley State University. This is a full conference paper for the ASQ Education Division's 2011 Advancing the STEM Agenda in Education, the Workplace and Society. The objectives of this study were to 1) develop a model or framework that described the organizational processes used to introduce engineering students into an organization and occupational roles through a cooperative education experience; and 2) determine activities and processes that better facilitate the student‟s movement from the education to the work environment. Students were socialized to the workplace through a five-stage process. The third stage, entry to the co-op position, is the focus of this paper. Entry to the co-op position described the student‟s movement from outside to inside the workplace organization and engineering-related occupational roles. Entry to the organization focused on teaching the student what employees need to know, regardless of what group the employee belongs to in the organization. Organization entry involved orientation processes and transfer of knowledge about organizational culture. Entry to the occupational role consisted of the student learning what to do and how to behave and act within expectations of defined jobs and positions. Occupational role entry involved workgroup dynamics and interactions as well as work assignments. Occupational role entry consisted of an eight-phase role development process from an unsure student hire to a new or junior-level engineer.

Keywords: STEM - Partnering - Training - Conference Proceedings

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