Blending Quantitative and Qualitative Data to Assess the Impact of Experiential Learning on the Employability of Engineering Graduates Through Industry-University Partnerships

Imelda Olague-Caballero & Delia Valles-Rosales
Year of Publication: 

Currently there is a worldwide trend to produce highly skilled and culturally competent engineers employable upon graduation. However, colleges and universities are being questioned about their ability to equip graduate engineers to meet employers’ expectations. Experiential learning has been used to help remediate this situation based on its capacity to foster skills and abilities more effectively learned outside a formal curriculum, specifically in real world scenarios. To understand the implications that experiential learning has on the employability of engineering graduates, an industry-university collaboration was evaluated. The objective was to investigate the impact that working in real world scenarios has on the development of soft skills, cultural competency, and self-efficacy beliefs among students participating in the program. This paper presents an overview of the industry-university collaboration and the metrics and methodology used to evaluate the program. The research looked for evidence that this intervention improved the employability of engineering students by providing opportunities to increase their self-efficacy beliefs while acquiring soft skills and becoming culturally competent. Partial results indicated that the successful design and deployment of the program depends on the stakeholder engagement, constant monitoring of students, and close communication with the industry partner.