America's higher education system is widely regarded to be one of the largest and most flexible systems in the world. Despite this advantage, the U.S. is in danger of being outpaced by other countries in producing innovative scientists and engineers. Recent reports by the federal government underscore the challenge faced by the U.S.: science and engineering students need to be better prepared with the motivation, competence, and critical thinking skills required to solve problems and generate technological breakthroughs if the nation is to remain a global economic leader.
Enabling Engineering Student Success, a report released by the Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education (CAEE), addresses this challenge by identifying key opportunities for improving how engineering students are currently being prepared for professional practice. A major component of the report, the Academic Pathways Study (APS), involved a broad collaboration of scholars who conducted innovative multi-year studies involving over 5,400 students at more than 20 institutions. The APS research also included over 100 newly hired graduates to round out a detailed picture of the paths engineering students take as they enter, experience, and graduate from undergraduate degree programs.