Parent and family influence on first-year engineering major choice

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Department of Engineering Fundamentals


The choice of a career or profession is a developmental process [1] that is influenced by a diverse set of factors including familial influences [1-12]. Parental career path [5] and perception of other career fields [6] have been shown to influence student career choice. The research presented in this paper focuses on the links between parental and other family members’ engineering or STEM occupations and engineering major choice, as well as whether this effect has any differences by gender.

In this study, 158 first year engineering students from a public midwestern technical university were surveyed to determine major, deciding factors in major selection, as well as if any family member or mentor had a career in an engineering discipline or STEM fields. This research determined that 63% of the students surveyed had at least one family member that had a career in engineering. Differences in the parental careers of male and female students will also be discussed in the paper.

Publication Title

First-Year Programs: Major Choice