A comparison between the challenges faced by chemical engineering alumni in the workplace and the challenges faced by chemical engineering students during their capstone

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Saudi Digital Library
Capstone projects have gained global interest to better equip students with the necessary skills and to facilitate their transition from academia to the professional workplace. To understand this transition, this exploratory research aims to inspect the experiences of chemical engineering students at the University of Strathclyde and chemical engineering alumni in terms of the challenges they encounter when working on the capstone project and in the professional workplace, respectively. Consequently, drawing a qualitative and quantitative comparison between the two groups enables us to conclude to what extent the current capstone model simulates the professional environment. Challenges related to teamwork, time management, and communication were reported frequently by both groups, which shows some degree of similarity between the two environments. However, the alumni considerably voiced additional challenges with respect to project management, leadership, and the application of engineering knowledge to real-life problems. The results suggest that these are the major deficiencies in the capstone project, which are worth further investigation to examine the feasibility of introducing challenges in terms of the deficient components to enhance the current capstone model. Moreover, students were found to underestimate the importance of data analysis and ethics in their capstone project. Finally, the distribution of challenges based on gender showed that female students were primarily exposed to communication challenges as opposed to male students, who had a higher relative frequency in challenges regarding the accessibility of resources.