From graduate students to faculty: Portraits of balance in the professional development plans of engineering graduate students

Juan David Ortega-Alvarez, Ruth A. Streveler, Audeen W. Fentiman, Harsh Wardhan Aggarwal, Sayan Biswas, Brandon S. Coventry, Abdel Rahman Hassan, Margaret L. McNamara, Nandan Paul Smriti

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The job of a college engineering faculty member is multifaceted. Faculty are not only expected to teach and conduct research but also to write proposals, consult, network, engage in administrative duties, and the list continues. The relative importance and time allocated to these different functions vary according to the nature and focus of the institution and the interests of the faculty. However, engineering graduate students aspiring to careers in academe are not usually trained in the multiple facets of the profession. As a result, when they become faculty members they often struggle to find ways to balance the parallel and many times competing demands of these functions. This paper examines the professional development plans of six engineering graduate students with a marked interest in an academic career. These plans are one of the major deliverables of a three-credit graduate course at a large, research-intensive unive rsity. The overarc hing goal of this course, as stated on its syllabus, is to provide students with an opportunity to learn and practice the skills that complement and enhance classroom teaching and learning in a tenure-track faculty position, either at a research-inte nsive university or at an institution that focuses on undergraduate engineering education. The research questions that orientate the study are: What do the professional development plans of engineering graduate students portray about their striving for balance in their future faculty careers? How does writing a professional development plan with expert guidance in a formal class help these students prepare for a faculty position? The analysis of students' professional development plans as qualitative artifacts, under the lens of expectations and values, reveals a wide variety of approaches to the role of faculty. Subsequent individual reflection on these plans allowed researchers to gather insights into why students chose to focus on different perspectives of the faculty job. Finally, a follow-up group conversation with the students shows that beneath these different perceptions and expectations lies the idea of balance, evolved and transformed by the discussions and activities of the course.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 24 2017
Externally publishedYes
Event124th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Columbus, United States
Duration: Jun 25 2017Jun 28 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Ruth A. Streveler is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Dr. Streveler has been the Principal Investigator or co-Principal Investigator of ten grants funded by the US National Science Foundation. She has published articles in the Journal of Engineering Education and the International Journal of Engineering Education and has contributed to the Cambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research. She has presented workshops to over 500 engineering faculty on four continents. Dr. Streveler’s primary research interests are investigating students’ understanding of difficult concepts in engineering science and helping engineering faculty conduct rigorous research in engineering education. In 2015, Dr. Streveler was inducted as an ASEE Fellow.

Publisher Copyright:
© American Society for Engineering Education, 2017.


Dive into the research topics of 'From graduate students to faculty: Portraits of balance in the professional development plans of engineering graduate students'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this