Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date




Publication Title

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


10 pp.

Conference Name

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, June 22-26, 2020, Virtual, Online


Many non-traditional students face similar challenges including lack of institutional support network, challenges to connecting with other students on campus, which may negatively affect degree persistence rates. The lack of financial support has been acknowledged nationwide as a barrier for STEM students including second-career seeking (SCS) students. The term career is defined as an occupation or course, which relates to a range of aspects of an individual’s life, learning and work and is undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress. We target academically talented SCS students at Old Dominion University (ODU) with demonstrated financial need, which can be addressed by NSF Scholarship in STEM.

In addressing the needs of SCS students in the context of the regional workforce system, the present NSF S-STEM program focuses on manufacturing of advanced materials (MAM) as one of the key driving factors for innovation and economic development both within the United States and internationally. Specifically, our goal is to leverage students’ interests in the development of advanced materials for manufacturing as the means to build positive self-efficacy beliefs and outcome expectations among SCS students. Negative self-efficacy beliefs and low outcome expectations can affect interests, goals, and activities related to education and careers in STEM, as well as establish career path dependence for low skilled jobs often leading to limited career choices resulting in reduced human capital. Career adaptability can be significantly improved among adult workers considering second career options within engineering if effective supports and key barriers are identified and better understood.

The proposed program emphasizes manufacturing of advanced materials (MAM) as a way to connect SCS students to faculty and industry mentors that facilitate their academic success and career placement in the STEM workforce. The educational research element of the program is focused on identifying barriers, supports and resources that affect agility, academic success, recruitment, retention, and degree attainment of SCS students. To ensure sustained retention, student success, and graduation of low-income, academically talented SCS students entering the engineering field, the project explored socio-psychological aspects of career transition, while identifying the key supports and barriers related to academic success, retention, and degree attainment of SCS students. Students enrolled in the program were provided with a versatile support network that incorporates curricular and co-curricular activities for professional development, which includes curricular, research, outreach, and professional (CROP) activities. The present NSF S-STEM program leverages the existing technological base of scientific labs and faculty experience to incorporate novel manufacturing processes and characterization methods for composites and additively manufactured materials. SCS participants obtain hands-on project based experience, including MAM hands-on workshops on various manufacturing technologies, educational seminars, capstone and research projects in partnership with industrial and government research labs. The results of the anonymous survey showed that present NSF Scholarship in STEM with the developed CROP support network positively affected self-efficacy and academic success of SCS students, while allowing greater connectivity with other students and campus resources.


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Original Publication Citation

Kravchenko, O., Cigularov, K., & Vandecar-Burdin, T. J. (2020) Opportunities in manufacturing of advanced materials for second career-seeking students. Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual, Online.