Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Mohammadi-Aragh, Jean

Committee Member

Brauer, Shane

Committee Member

Eakin, Deborah

Committee Member

Johnson, Jenna

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Engineering Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


The need for engineers in the workforce continues to grow. Filling this need requires recruiting future engineers to colleges and universities and retaining them through to degree completion. However, this is easier said than done. Universities are tasked with attempting to keep up with the demand for new engineers and companies are searching for new engineers to recruit. One avenue that has been established in the attempt to reach students for engineering is offering engineering or STEM classes in K-12 schools.

This dissertation looked at engineering classes offered at the high school level. These courses were analyzed for relationships with the steps in producing new engineers – recruitment and persistence. Historical data was used to study the effect of high school engineering courses on engineering recruitment. The availability of engineering courses in Mississippi high schools was analyzed against the percentage of graduates from those high schools entering the largest engineering school in the state. The influence of high school engineering participation on engineering discipline selection was also studied using a nationwide sample of current undergraduate engineering students. This same survey sample was used to study two factors related to engineering persistence – persistence attitudes and engineering self-efficacy.

Analysis found significant relationships between high school engineering courses and engineering recruitment. Engineering availability correlated to a higher percentage of students entering engineering. Participation in these engineering courses was also significantly associated with choice in certain engineering disciplines. However, once students have chosen their path in engineering and entered their undergraduate journey, the high school courses do not impact persistence factors. No relationships were found between high school engineering participation and persistence attitudes or overall engineering self-efficacy.