Matthew W. Ohland, Ph.D.

The Effects of Race, Class, Gender, Institution, and Discipline in Engineering Education: Lessons from Longitudinal Student Data

Does engineering have a problem graduating the students who start? How many should expect to graduate? How does retention vary among different populations, institutions, and disciplines? A team of researchers has begun to address these questions by comparing engineering student outcomes to those of students in other majors and by disaggregating results within engineering by discipline, race/ethnicity and gender, and institution. Using information from the Department of Education, socioeconomic issues are also considered. The Multiple-Institution Database for Investigating Engineering Longitudinal Development (MIDFIELD) includes longitudinal data for over 200,000 students enrolled in engineering and more than 800,000 students of other majors at 11 institutions during a period of more than 20 years. The findings are an improvement over studies that have much smaller populations, make cross-sectional assumptions, or focus on a single institution. The large MIDFIELD population makes it possible to disaggregate by race/ethnicity, gender, and discipline simultaneously.


Dr. Matthew Ohland is a professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. He is a fellow of the American Society of Engineering Education and a Fellow of IEEE. Along with his research partners, he was recognized for his work on longitudinal studies of engineering students with best paper awards in the Journal of Engineering Education in 2008 and 2011 and the IEEE Transactions on Education in 2011 and 2015 in addition to best paper awards at multiple conferences. Software for team formation and peer evaluation developed under Dr. Ohland’s leadership has also received various awards and has been used by over 650,000 students worldwide. He received the Charles B. Murphy Award, Purdue University’s highest teaching recognition, in 2015. Dr. Ohland previously served as Associate Professor of General Engineering at Clemson University, Assistant Director of the NSF-sponsored SUCCEED Engineering Education Coalition and an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow for Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education. Dr. Ohland has a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of Florida. Previously, he earned an M.S. in Materials Engineering and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 1991 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a B.S. in Engineering and a B.A. in Religion from Swarthmore College.