On the Effect of Employment during the Last Year of Studies to Timely Graduation and Deep Learning

On the Effect of Employment during the Last Year of Studies to Timely Graduation and Deep Learning

P. Sainio, S. Virtanen (2016).  On the Effect of Employment during the Last Year of Studies to Timely Graduation and Deep Learning. 11.

Engineering students in Finland have quite commonly been hired by the employers already before the graduation. This happens particularly for the best engineering students. The students are quite keen on starting their engineering work life a bit early. One reason may be the lack of tuition fees; it is economically attractive to enjoy the benefits of a hired engineer. This is not the only reason; the best engineers are enthusiastic on their engineering work and impatient to wait for the final graduation if they get the chance for “real life” engineering work earlier.

The Ministry of Education and Culture in Finland is emphasizing the importance of cost effective universities where the students graduate fast and become tax payers in the society. Achieving timely graduation targets is one of the goals affecting the government financing of the universities. In order to reach the target, the universities should push the students to limit their practical engineering working to minimum and concentrate on the theoretical studies and fast graduation.

Working during the studies does delay the graduation, but it also has its benefits. Working within one’s own engineering profession provides valuable knowledge on how to apply the theoretical skills learned in the university to practice. It may also boost the students’ motivation for deep learning of the subjects instead of just collecting the credits needed for graduation. Working in non-engineering work does not give perspective in engineering skills, but is helpful in achieving important working life soft skills needed also in the engineering profession, thus improving the employability of the student.

CDIO Capstone projects provide to the student similar advantages as working in an external engineering enterprise. A pedagogically professional approach to the practical engineering work done in a Capstone project may bring equivalent skills to the student with a faster and a better managed way as a part of curriculum. Our university joined CDIO in 2012, so we currently have both students that follow the new CDIO curriculum and older students who still follow the old non-CDIO curriculum.

This paper presents results of a survey among engineering students that graduated during 2014-2015. Some of the surveyed students are in the new CDIO curriculum that includes a Capstone project. Some have been employed in their own engineering field or other professions during final studies. With the survey we analyze how much practical engineering work as an employee was done during the last year of studies, how much it delayed the graduation, and did it help in deep understanding of engineering theories. We also compare the outcomes between students who did a Capstone project and students who did not.

Proceedings of the 12th International CDIO Conference, Turku, Finland, June 12-16 2016

Authors (New): 
Petri Sainio
Seppo Virtanen
University of Turku, Turku, Finland
Deep Learning
timely graduation
CDIO Standard 2
CDIO Standard 3
CDIO Standard 7
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