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Reasons and motivations for the option of an engineering career in Portugal

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Towards the end of their secondary education, students face significant pressures in their decision about their career plan. These pressures are internal and external, personal and social, individual and from the reference group. This paper aims at understanding the reasons driving engineering students’ choices, their perceived needs and aspirations. Moreover, it discusses how, in that process, students are constrained by family and friends and are conditioned by factors such as their socioeconomic and cultural background, employability prospects and gender. The construction of a career map/plan and the reasons and motivations for the option of an engineering career are reviewed, based on the qualitative analysis of students’ discourses. The data indicate the relevance of several criteria such as social status, intelligence, gender, competences, values and interests in the construction of career aspirations. All these levels are highly influenced by self-esteem, which is closely related to the social value of training options and career paths.
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Keywords: electrical engineering; engineering education; engineering education research; student involvement; university education

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Center for Research on Higher Education Policy (CIPES), Rua 1o de Dezembro 3994450–227Matosinhos, Portugal

Publication date: 2011-08-01

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