CIAN Alumni Survey Report

In 2013, CIAN Education developed a new tool to survey alumni attitudes regarding the impact of CIAN participation on their careers and professional development. This survey was administered via Surveymonkey.com and was sent to 51 CIAN alumni. Eighteen individuals completed the survey and results indicate that CIAN student membership impacted the alumni in several positive ways.

Respondents were first asked about their highest level of education; of the 18 eighteen individuals, 53% held M.S. degrees, 35% held PhDs, and 12% held a Bachelor’s. Also, during their time as CIAN students, 86% assert that they were aware of CIAN’s overall purpose, mission, and goals, showing that CIAN effectively disseminates this type of information to its student members.

Additionally, CIAN alumni were asked to agree or disagree with a set of statements about their CIAN student experience. All survey respondents “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with the first three statements, resulting in 100% consensus; the only weakness, relative to the other items, concerns the statement, “My involvement with CIAN has had a lasting impact on me as a professional,” though there was still a high rate of agreement. Each statement and its level of consensus (i.e. level of agreement among respondents that the statement is an accurate one) is listed below:

Statement

Level of Consensus

I was aware of how my research contributed to CIAN’s goals.

100%

CIAN provided opportunities for personal development that I would not have had otherwise.

100%

I would recommend to current students that they get involved with CIAN.

100%

My involvement with CIAN increased my level of preparation for the job market

92.8%

My involvement with CIAN has had a lasting impact on me as a professional.

78.5%

Next, to evaluate CIAN’s effort to cultivate Engineer of 2020 attributes in its students, alumni were asked to what degree they felt their involvement with CIAN helped them develop eight of these skills: business management and leadership, analytical skills, practical ingenuity, creativity, communication, ethical standards and professionalism, life-long learning, and dynamism, agility, resilience, and flexibility. The graph below displays the complete set of responses, with about 54% of responses indicating that CIAN involvement helped students acquire and hone these attributes “quite a bit” or “a great deal.” Another 35% said that these attributes were engendered at least “a little bit.” The two attributes which received the most agreement were Analytical skills and Business Management and Leadership, implying that CIAN’s strength lies in cultivating these two qualities. Overall, E2020 attributes have certainly been fostered however there is room for improvement and increased emphasis on these qualities throughout CIAN’s student activities and programs.

ALumni survey report Fig A

Next, alumni were asked what they appreciated most about having been part of CIAN, and most commented on the opportunity to collaborate and network with students and faculty across many campuses and labs. Other responses were as follows:

“The community was very good, also it gave me a nice opportunity to practice skills.”

“CIAN gave me a great opportunity to take part in research while also emphasizing how the research fits in to broad goals for long term impacts and advancing the integrated optical networks field.”

Survey respondents were also asked to list ways in which CIAN involvement benefitted their educational experience. A few individuals highlighted the chance to attend conferences and gain exposure to other fields of research. Additional comments were:

“CIAN opened up doors to the rest of the research world, allowed me to get better and learn more by observing and interacting with other faculty.”

“Gave me a great research project to work on and innovate and produce solutions with great impact.”

“The projects I worked on broadened my knowledge.”

One survey item asked CIAN alumni how soon after graduation they obtained a job. Fifty-three percent said they obtained a job within one month of graduating, while 7% found a job between one and two months after graduation and 40% went on to graduate school. Of those who began full-time employment, 67% found their first position in Industry, 33% filled posts in Academia such as assistant professor and post-doctoral researchers, and 100% are still currently employed. Among the various employers of these CIAN alumni are FaceBook, Google, IBM, Intel, Illumina, NVIDIA, and the Tyndall National Institute. Two of the respondents have started businesses since graduation, several have published papers, and one alumnus has filed a patent and submitted several others. In summary, CIAN alumni have secured positions with prestigious companies and institutions, are currently thriving in their careers, and have made it clear that CIAN was an important part of their preparation.

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