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Fall 2017

Letter From The Chair

At a recent campus retreat for department chairs and unit leaders we learned about the results of a Gallup-Purdue University study that explored how life in college matters after college. Specifically the survey connected teaching/learning experiences while attending college to workplace success and personal (life vision, social relationships, financial security, community engagement and physical health) after college. Interestingly, there is little correlation between the type of school, private or public, regardless of the selectivity in the entering freshman class. What makes a profound difference in the lives of individual graduates is the extent to which students are emotionally supported during college and the depth of experiential learning that characterizes their education. Researchers in the Gallup-Purdue University study compared student’s answers to the ‘big six’ questions below with the odds of being engaged at work and the odds of thriving in all areas of well-being.

Emotional Support Questions

  1. I had at least one professor at [College] who made me excited about learning.
  2. My professors at [College] cared about me as a person.
  3. I had a mentor who encouraged me to pursue my goals and dreams.

Experiential Learning Questions

  1. I worked on a project that took a semester or more to complete.
  2. I had an internship or job that allowed me to apply what I was learning in the classroom.
  3. I was extremely active in extracurricular activities and organizations while attending [College].

Across more than 70,000 students surveyed in all 50 states, only 14 percent of college graduates reported all three types of emotional support. Only 6 percent of graduates reported all three types of experiential learning. Less than 3 percent reported that they could answer affirmatively to all six questions. Moreover, the Gallup data show increased odds of engagement at work and overall well-being connected to how well students are supported and prepared in college.

Odds of Graduates Being Engaged at Work

  • 2.6 x higher if prepared well for life outside of college
  • 2.4 x higher if college is passionate about the long-term success of its students

Odds of Graduates Thriving in All Areas of Well-Being

  • 4.6 x higher if engaged at work
  • 2.5 x higher if prepared well for life outside of college
  • 2.0 x higher if students remain emotionally attached to college
  • 1.9 x higher if college is passionate about the long-term success of its students

My annual exit interviews with Mechanical Engineering graduates (BSME, MSME/MEME and PhD) routinely surface comments and kudos about the emotional support they have received by our faculty/staff and appreciation for the hands-on projects as well as learning experiences that have been embedded in their education. The results affirm our recognition by the National Academy of Engineers as an exemplar of real-world engineering education. How we cultivate faculty/staff/student bonds inside and outside the classroom matters and this makes a difference in the lives of our students, at U of I and beyond. Our commitment to our ME students does not end with great lives and great jobs. We seek to work together with alumni to pay it forward to future generations of Vandal Engineers. There are many ways to do this and some of these have been featured in previous ME newsletters. One way is to write back and share your own stories about emotional support, experiential education or other aspects of your college years that have been especially meaningful and significant. We would like to spotlight these in future ME newsletters.

— Steve Beyerlein
Chair, Department of Mechanical Engineering

In This Newsletter


Undergraduate Students

Graduate Students

Student Awards

Teaching Innovations

Faculty and Staff


Special Thanks to 2017-18 External Capstone Project Sponsors

Save the Date

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Mechanical Engineering
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 0902
Moscow, ID 83844-0902

Phone: 208-885-6579

Fax: 208-885-9031