Discovering the Unique Assets of Veterans in Engineering: A Strengths-Based Thematic Analysis of Veterans’ Narratives
Prior research has provided evidence to suggest that veterans exhibit unique assets that benefit them in engineering education and engineering industry. However, there is little evidence to determine whether their assets are due to military service or other demographic factors such as age, maturity, or gender. The aim of this study is to discover, better understand, and disseminate the unique assets that veterans gained through military service and continue to employ as engineering students or professional engineers. This strength-based thematic analysis investigated the semi-structured narrative interviews of 18 military veterans who are now engineering students or professionals in engineering industry. Using the Funds of Knowledge framework, veterans’ Funds of Knowledge were identified and analyzed for emergent themes. Participants exhibited 10 unique veterans’ Funds of Knowledge. Utilizing analytical memos, repeated reflection, and iterative analysis, two overarching themes emerged, Effective Teaming in Engineering and Adapting to Overcome Challenges. Additionally, a niche concept of Identity Crafting was explored using the unique narratives of two participants. This study provides empirical evidence of military veterans experientially learning valuable assets in engineering from their military service. A better understanding of the veterans’ Funds of Knowledge presented in this study provides valuable opportunities for their utilization in engineering education and engineering industry.