NSF EEC Research Initiation: Engineering Students’ Outcome Expectations for Artificial Intelligence (AI) careers: An Exploratory Study

Project’s NSF Page


Julie P. Martin, Ph.D. - EETI Director and Professor of Engineering Education

Grant Details

Funder: Division of Engineering Education and Centers, National Science Foundation
Amount: $83,529.00
Award number: 2024736
Start and End date: September 2020 – August 2024


The United States is facing an unprecedented shortage of engineers who are skilled in artificial intelligence (AI). AI has the potential to transform all fields of engineering and technology, but this potential can only be realized if today’s engineering students choose to make AI part of their educational and career goals. This project will study how and why engineering students include or exclude AI from their educational and career goals. Results from this project will lay the groundwork for designing inclusive programs that meet tomorrow’s demands for a skilled AI workforce. This project aligns with national priorities as outlined in the National AI R&D Strategic Plan, among other federal policy documents.

This project examines how undergraduate engineering students at a large, public engineering school navigate a career landscape that is being reshaped by AI. Grounded in Social Cognitive Career Theory, our qualitative study will answer the following questions: 1.) How do engineering undergraduates perceive academic and career options related to AI, and how do students describe these perceptions as influencing their academic and career plans? 2.) How are students? outcome expectations related to AI coursework and careers similar to or different from their outcome expectations for coursework and careers in their traditional engineering major? 3.) How do the outcome expectations of students who are interested in AI careers differ from students who are interested in more conventional engineering careers? Long term, this work will help educators understand how AI can be brought into undergraduate engineering education without excluding students who initially do not have an interest or background in AI and without decreasing interest in traditional engineering careers.

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