Date of Award

August 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Urban Education

First Advisor

Simone C.O. Conceição

Committee Members

Raji Swaminathan, Lilliana Mina, Marie Sandy


Competence, Development, Engineers, Skills, Transition, Transversal


The transition from student to engineering practice is complex, ambiguous, and critical for new engineers. New engineers are typically moving from a highly structured curriculum into a highly unstructured work environment, making it essential to understand new engineers’ perceptions and experiences throughout the transition to practice. This understanding can help improve the development of new engineers and the organizations that will benefit by supporting them. Given the relatively incomplete understanding of new engineers’ transition to practice experiences, the goal of this study was to explore how new engineers perceived their transition to practice throughout their first two years as professional engineers.

This study followed an inductive interpretivist research design, using semi-structured interviews to gain access to information shared by participants. I interviewed 10 new engineers who worked for companies across the Midwestern and Northeastern United States. I used latent thematic analysis to code the transcripts’ and to identify themes. New engineers shared perceptions about wide range of experiences that may inform stakeholders how to more effectively support future engineers transition to practice.

Findings demonstrated that new engineers’ transition to practice occurs across a systematic process where they Move In, Move Through, Move Out of the transition to practice and Move On to engineering practice. The process captured elements of Schlossberg’s Transition Process Model (Anderson et al., 2012) and Benner’s (1984) Novice to Expert Competency Model captured new engineers’ transition to practice. The findings differed from Schlossberg in two significant facets of transition: (1) engineers moving out of the transition to practice do not move onto a new situation, and (2) new engineers perceive skill development as a coping resource throughout their transition. Other contributions include finding that new engineers take control of their transition early in the process and that engineers use transversal skills to develop their technical skills