Engineers that are actively engaged with both the social and technical dimensions of engineering work—socially engaged engineers—offer diversity in skill sets, values, and characteristics to the engineering workforce. This diversity can help the engineering profession better address complex global challenges. Despite the value of socially engaged engineers, the field lacks understanding about the career interests and experiences of these engineers. This study investigates EWB-USA members as a case of socially engaged engineers to explore engineering students’ career interests and practicing engineers’ career intentions and experiences. Using mixed-methods and a lens of meaningful work, this study compares differences between EWB-USA members and nonmembers. Findings indicated two main trends among EWB-USA members: females’ disillusionment with community development engineering work and practitioners’ strategies to find more personally meaningful work. This paper discusses why and how these findings should serve as a miner’s canary—a warning to the engineering field about the dangers of socially engaged engineers’ potential misalignment with current engineering careers.
Litchfield, K. and Javernick-Will, A. (2016). “‘Socially Engaged Engineers’ Career Interests and Experiences: A Miner’s Canary.” Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education. 143 (1), 4016018. doi: 10.1061/(ASCE)EI.1943-5541.0000303.