Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Engineering (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


Kurtis G Paterson


What motivates students to perform and pursue engineering design tasks? This study examines this question by way of three Learning Through Service (LTS) programs: 1) an on-going longitudinal study examining the impacts of service on engineering students, 2) an on-going analysis of an international senior design capstone program, and 3) an on-going evaluation of an international graduate-level research program. The evaluation of these programs incorporates both qualitative and quantitative methods, utilizing surveys, questionnaires, and interviews, which help to provide insight on what motivates students to do engineering design work. The quantitative methods were utilized in analyzing various instruments including: a Readiness assessment inventory, Intercultural Development Inventory, Sustainable Engineering through Service Learning survey, the Impacts of Service on Engineering Students’ survey, Motivational narratives, as well as some analysis for interview text. The results of these instruments help to provide some much needed insight on how prepared students are to participate in engineering programs. Additional qualitative methods include: Word clouds, Motivational narratives, as well as interview analysis. This thesis focused on how these instruments help to determine what motivates engineering students to pursue engineering design tasks. These instruments aim to collect some more in-depth information than the quantitative instruments will allow. Preliminary results suggest that of the 120 interviews analyzed Interest/Enjoyment, Application of knowledge and skills, as well as gaining knowledge are key motivating factors regardless of gender or academic level. Together these findings begin to shed light on what motivates students to perform engineering design tasks, which can be applied for better recruitment and retention in university programs.