Joanna Millunchick

Linking Extracurricular Engineering Activities and College Success Among Engineering Students

Sponsor: National Science Foundation
There is a common perception in higher education that engineering-centered co-curricular activities are beneficial in building confidence, improving academic performance, and developing social and professional networks among engineering students. While there are many published studies that link participation in various types of extra-curricular activities, such as social clubs and volunteerism, on academic and social development, little is written about the effect of participation in more engineering-based organizations. This project seeks to study: (1) why students participate in co-curricular engineering activities, such as engineering honors and professional societies and design teams, (2) whether such participation confers benefits to the participants and helps them develop into professional engineers, and (3) how we might leverage those benefits to attract and retain students who are underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, including women, African American, Hispanic, and first generation students. Findings from this project will lay the groundwork for future efforts that will include the design of engineering-based activities that benefit a diverse student body based on concrete data and evidence rather than on intuition.