Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

American Society for Engineering Education

Conference Name

ASEE's Virtual Conference: At Home With Engineering Education


Those graduate students known as returners, who have a gap of at least five years between their undergraduate degree conferral and their return to school for a graduate degree, have a wide variety of different experiences. While many of them spend those gap years in employment at an industrial employer, some of them serve in the military in various capacities. As military experience is different from working at an industrial employer, one might expect that these returners will be different in their outlook, skills, or approach to learning. In this study, the differences between military returners and returners from industry are examined. Twenty-one returners were interviewed, of whom seven had either served in or worked directly for the military as a civilian. The interview protocol covered the participants’ decision-making process, challenges they experienced in the program, and whether and how their past experiences interacted with or had an influence on their education. The transcripts of these interviews are analyzed, and the two groups are compared, with key differences and similarities, such as their approach to leadership, noted. In addition, the findings from this analysis are compared to military personnel entering an undergraduate program, as reported in the literature.


Paper ID #29156

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© American Society for Engineering Education, 2020