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A doctorate that works: Non-traditional populations served on both sides of the Atlantic

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conference contribution
posted on 2020-03-26, 10:36 authored by Michael J Dyrenfurth, Mitchell L Springer, Kathryne Newton, Carmen TorresCarmen Torres, Timothy J. Jacobs, Charles M. Wolf
The innovation imperative faced by western business and industry, as well as by both non-governmental and governmental organizations is well recognized. Business and governmental leaders, economists and educators have all spoken about this urgency. To that end, the institutions represented by the authors have independently evolved doctoral programs on both sides of the Atlantic, to prepare research-informed and technologically-capable leaders for business, industry, and public service.
Our nations employ an entire continuum of technologically capable people tasked to generate value in their economies. This continuum consists of growing numbers of people ranging from semi-skilled operatives to exceptionally capable engineers, scientists and leaders at the doctoral level. The focus of this paper is at the high end of this continuum and to describe the characteristics of the population targeted and served by the non-traditional doctoral programs. It is hoped that by drawing attention to this growing population and its importance that this will stimulate the development of additional programs that address this critical need.
Educational programs addressing each of the worker groups along the skill continuum are well established, that is, except for those at the doctoral level who wish to pursue and advance their career along technological leadership trajectories in business, industry, and public service. This latter group has not been well served by traditional PhD programs that generally are designed to develop people seeking a career in academia. In the United Kingdom, 98% of the Doctorate graduates are employed in non-academic roles, however the traditional PhD degrees are geared towards preparing researchers for entry into academia. This percentage is similarly high in the USA.
But, what are the characteristics of the unserved population which would benefit from a technologically-focused business and industry doctorate? This paper was generated to present the characteristics of people actually served by three such doctoral programs, each at different institutions, and each at different stages of program development: One in its initial launch year, one operating for over six years and one operating since 1974. • XXX University, a mid-western land grant institution in the USA, has developed and gained both institutional and state approval to offer such a doctorate. In securing such approval, an extensive needs assessment was conducted, and this was followed by a soft-start pilot program. Subsequent to these two activities, a proper first cohort was recruited and enrolled. Each of these steps was carefully documented and the characteristics of each of the students involved were researched. • XXX University, in the UK, is in its 6th year of operation, having recruited 5 cohorts and graduated the first one. The lessons learnt from the employment destinations of that first cohort are insightful for those considering the creation of such programs as well as for industry wishing to recruit doctoral graduates from this University/degree. • XXX University, a western land grant institution in the USA, is in its 45th year of operation with multiple graduates. Its records provide evidence over time as to the characteristics of those who pursue such industry-oriented non-traditional doctoral degrees. The purpose of this paper is to present the characteristics of this new population in order to describe it and to derive information that will be useful in guiding further program development to serve such populations even better in terms of both content and accessibility/delivery methods.
Among the key characteristics that will be summarized include demographics, age, gender, work experience, employer categories, career goals, specific programmatic goals, barriers to entry into a doctoral program, e.g., residency, and other relevant variables. Subsequently the implications of this population’s characteristics will be presented using the categories of: 1. Content important to build into industry-facing doctoral programs, 2. Delivery methods suitable for enrollees in such programs, 3. Instructional approaches and designs effective in serving such enrollees, 4. Advisement mechanisms and support systems needed to support such enrollees, and, 5. Recruitment strategies to attract the right talent/individuals to the program in order to enhance the capacity of the company/industry/agency where they will find employment OR that is already employing them.


EPSRC CDT - Embedded Intelligence - Holding account : EP/L014998/1



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

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2020 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings


2020 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference and Exposition


American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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© American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)

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© 2020 American Society for Engineering Education. ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings, 22nd-26th June 2020, Virtual Online.

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Paper ID #30121


  • en



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22nd June 2020 - 26th June 2020


Dr Carmen Torres-Sanchez. Deposit date: 25 March 2020

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