Date of Thesis

Spring 2024


Expertise and intuition are inherently intertwined. Domain-specific intuition is a skill held by experts in their domain of knowledge and typically acquired after approximately six years of experience. Engineering intuition is more specifically a problem-solving skill used by experienced, expert engineering practitioners in response to constraints. While expertise and experience are necessary to develop intuition, intuition use is affected by an individual’s personal conditions, such as confidence. Higher confidence, known as self-efficacy in relevant literature, has been implicitly tied to increased intuition use among engineering practitioners with 1.5 – 25+ years of experience, but the self-efficacy-intuition connection has not been explicitly studied. This thesis investigates the relationship between expertise, intuition, and self-efficacy in a sample of early-career engineers (< 6 years of post-baccalaureate experience) whose early engineering education/career experience was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with a particular additional focus on emergent gender differences. Survey and interview data was collected from 11 early-career Bucknell alumni regarding engineering-related self-efficacy, self-efficacy experiences, and perceptions of expertise and intuition. Results reveal a deficit in the expertise and intuition in the sample compared to a pre-COVID-19 sample of early-career alumni, highlight male-favored gender differences in intuition usage and types of self-efficacy experiences, and emphasize the importance of first- and second-hand experiences in the early years of an engineer’s training. This thesis expands previous knowledge of expertise, intuition, and self-efficacy and provides a foundation for future work in this area involving further unraveling gender inequities in engineering and investigating specific ways to foster growth in expertise, intuition, and self-efficacy for engineering undergraduates.


experience, expertise, intuition, self-efficacy, COVID-19, gender

Access Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelor of Science



Second Major


Minor, Emphasis, or Concentration

Education - Learning and Development across the Lifespan

First Advisor

Elif Miskioğlu

Second Advisor

JT Ptacek

Available for download on Friday, May 07, 2027