In May 2016, Diane Peters, Ph.D., gave a Distinguished Faculty Lecture at Kettering University in Flint, Michigan on her research in engineering education. Her talk, titled “Returning to School: How Work Experience Impacts Engineering Graduate Students,” gave an overview of her research program investigating issues affecting professionals who choose to leave the workforce in order to pursue a graduate degree. Watch a video of Dr. Peters’ talk below.
Dr. Peters covered the start of the research program with a small pilot study in 2010. Some of the key findings from that first study focused on the costs of returning to school, both financial and non-monetary, and how these returning students, or “returners,” found ways to mitigate the costs and succeed in their graduate programs.
Later work, involving a nationwide survey and interviews, focused on returners in doctoral programs and how work experience impacted their research. Her current NSF-funded project, looking at knowledge construction in master’s degree students, was also mentioned. The talk concluded with a brief look at what we still don’t know about these students, and a call for other researchers to join in and take on some of these unanswered questions.
Dr. Peters has been a member of SWE for over 25 years. Her involvement in SWE has spanned many roles, including active involvement in the Women in Academia (WIA) committee. As a member of WIA, she is developing a strategy to increase the communication and networking between industry and academia.