Clemson University

Dr. Huff; Becoming engineers among other forms of self

Title: Becoming engineers among other forms of self

A growing body of engineering education research has attended to the formation of engineering identity, that is, the developmental processes by which a student becomes an engineer. Existing research has revealed much about how educational and workplace structures shape a shared sense of identity among engineers. We know little about how individuals psychologically experience their engineering identities. We also know little about how these engineering selves interact with other non-professional forms of self.
My ongoing research has responded to this gap by closely examining the identity journeys of engineering students as they progress through the curriculum and workplace. In this presentation, I will discuss three particular themes from an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) study on 7 engineering students as they graduated and transitioned into the workplace. These themes describe how the participants, after graduation, began to feel an increased sense of responsibility and credibility as engineers (Theme 1) while also contending with increased levels of insecurity in these roles (Theme 2). Additionally, as participants began to take on their new engineering roles, they felt a dramatic shift in their advancement toward adulthood (Theme 3).
Collectively, these findings illustrate how engineering identity has a multifaceted relationship with other non-professional forms of self. In the presentation, I will discuss the importance for engineering education research in studying this complex interaction among multiple forms of self. I will also discuss the practical opportunities that this type of research supports in relation to improving the inclusiveness of engineering education programs.

James Huff is an assistant professor of engineering at Harding University, where he primarily teaches multidisciplinary engineering design and electrical engineering. His research interests are aligned with how engineering students develop in their career identity while also developing as whole persons. James received his Ph.D. in engineering education and his M.S. in electrical and computer engineering, both from Purdue University. He received his bachelor's in computer engineering at Harding University.

Friday, January 22, 2016 at 11:15am to 12:15pm

Rhodes Annex, 109

Event Type



College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences, Research, Research Seminars, Engineering and Science Education

Target Audience

Faculty, Students, Undergraduate, Graduate


Contact Name:

Jess LeCroy

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