Several studies have reported that there are groups among young people that view technology differently from each other and also have different motives for studying engineering. In order to better understand what kinds of young people are attracted to engineering in Finland, we conducted a survey on different aspects of young people’s relationship to technology. The survey was administered to three different groups of relatively similar ages and other demographics. The first group of respondents consisted of students that had just started their studies towards a B.Sc. in Mechanical, Electrical, Environmental, or Energy engineering (N=133). The second group comprised secondary high school students that attended a university course in Basic Electronics in three consecutive years (N=100). These students were motivated to study this technology-related topic but did not necessarily intend to pursue a career in engineering. The respondents in the last group (N=210) were secondary high school students who participated in different class visits to the university (not necessarily out of their own free will) and thus did not share a particular interest in technology or engineering. A factor analysis of the survey data yielded three somewhat distinct profiles in relation to technology, and a statistical analysis revealed differences between both the groups and the genders. The results give insights into what kinds of technology-related views and experiences may draw people to engineering and what, on the other hand, may push them out.
The data and results of the survey are of use when promoting the role of engineering and shaping young people’s views on technology. In this work, the course in Basic Electronics and other similar educational actions that give a glimpse into engineering studies can be used as promotional material and to provide positive experiences through technology-related activities. For this purpose, the survey provides useful data when developing the course and targeting potential students in the future. The survey also has wider implications for raising awareness and increasing understanding of the forces and factors driving young people in today’s world.
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