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Engineering Majors Survey

Over the past four years, the Designing Education Lab has been conducting a national longitudinal study of how engineers make the transition from undergraduate to workplace environments, navigate the early career job market, and experience their first professional positions. At the heart of this study is the Engineering Majors Survey (EMS), a survey designed to explore engineering students’ technical, innovation, and entrepreneurial interests and experiences over time.

EMS research team leads include: Principal Investigator Sheri Sheppard, Shannon Gilmartin, Helen Chen, and Mark Schar. Others who have been involved in EMS design and analysis include Mary Alice Arnstein, Simon Barth, Tua Bjorklund, Emily Cao, Kai Jun Chew, Emanuel Costache, Carolin Dungs, Angela Harris, Amy Huynh, Mathias Klenk, Abisola Kusimo, Amber Levine, Sergio Licon, Laurie Moore, Sophia Pink, Gunther Rameseder, Katherine Reinders, Maximillian Reithmann, Eric Reynolds, Beth Rieken, Lenard Rude, Bernhard Schadl, Tyler Su, Marissa Thompson, George Toye, and Vivian Xiao. Our team has included several other analysts in the early design stages who have been critical to the project development: Bethany Chaffin, Michelle Grau, Qu Jin, Daniel Weiss, Chloe Wiggins, our Epicenter partners at Stanford University, VentureWell, and SageFox, our Epicenter advisors Mary Besterfield-Sacre, Samantha Brunhaver, Nathalie Duval-Couetil, and Sarah Zappe, and many others (see our Technical Report by following the FAQ link below). 

The Engineering Majors Survey was initially conducted with support from the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), a center funded by the National Science Foundation (grant number DUE-1125457). The third wave of the survey, "EMS 3.0", was administered in Fall 2017 with support from the National Science Foundation (grant number 1636442).This most recent grant is titled Pathways from school to work (PATHS): A longitudinal study of undergraduate engineering students from college into the workforce. The PATHS project has 12-member Advisory Committee composed of faculty, staff, and industry professionals with expertise in engineering workforce development.

EMS Research Questions

  • What are the school-to-work pathways for today's engineering students?
  • Which skills have they developed? How are they applying these skills?
  • What are their career interests and goals?
  • How do these interests and goals change over time?
  • Are they designing—and leading—technological and social innovations?
  • Which educational and workplace environments/experiences influence the development of their innovation and entrepreneurial interests, abilities, and achievements?
  • Which college experiences are associated with their confidence to innovate, their technical accomplishments, their creative breakthroughs?

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For the initial study (EMS 1.0), a 35-question survey was administered to over 30,000 engineering juniors and seniors across a nationally representative sample of 27 U.S. engineering schools in February-March 2015. Over 7,000 students responded, of whom approximately 6,100 self-identified as juniors or seniors. 

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News and Updates


  • August 2019: Recent papers include...

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