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A Core Course Component in a Project-based First-year Engineering Experience

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

First-year Programs Division Technical Session 8: Project-based Learning and Cornerstone Courses

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.27.1 - 26.27.11



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Paper Authors


Robert H. Caverly Villanova University

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Dr. Caverly is a professor in the ECE Department at Villanova University. An IEEE Fellow, he is also an IEEE-MTTS Distinguished Microwave Lecturer.

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Randy Weinstein Villanova University

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Randy D. Weinstein joined the Chemical Engineering Department after receiving a B.S. in Chemical Engineering with high distinction from the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Chemical Engineering. He was awarded the 2001 Farrell Award to recognize personal concern for students and exceptional dedication to the Villanova University College of Engineering. In 2004 he was promoted to Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering with tenure and in 2007 he was appointed Full Professor and chair of the Chemical Engineering Department. Ihe fall of 2012 he became the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for the College of Engineering. In 2008 he won the new Innovative Teaching Award at Villanova University. In 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2009 he was a semi-finalist for the Lindback Award for Teaching Excellence at Villanova University. He was the 2010 Lindback award winner.

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James C. O'Brien Villanova University


Seri Park Villanova University

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Seri Park, PhD, P.T.P., is an Assistant Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Villanova University. She is serving as a member of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee for the CEE Department. She is also the faculty advisor of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Student Chapter at Villanova and member of Villanova’s Transportation Subcommittee under President’s Environmental Sustainability Committee. In addition to those duties at Villanova University, she is also Panel Member of various research projects sponsored by The National Academies and University Representative of Transportation research Board. Her teaching and research area include various aspects of transportation engineering, traffic safety, and sustainable infrastructure.

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Edward Stephen Char Jr. Villanova University

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BS EE Villanova University 1996
MS EE Villanova University 1998

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John Komlos Villanova University

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A Core Course Component in a Project-Based First-Year Engineering ExperienceXYZ University embarked on a new project-based approach for the required first-yearengineering experience in 2009; this new first-year experience was reported in the 2010 ASEEAnnual Conference proceedings. The two-semester sequence is divided into four half-semesterblocks with the first half-semester block being the Core Course, the focus of this paper. TheCore Course covers material germane to the five engineering programs offered at XYZUniversity (chemical, civil and environmental, computer, electrical and mechanical).This paper focuses on three major topic points: • A discussion of the lessons-learned in working with first-year engineering students during the six years that the first-year experience has been taught; • A discussion of an assessment tool based on pre- and post-testing to gauge student performance in select areas of the course • Results of this assessment tool and how it is being used in course improvement (Fig. 1 shows an example of pre-and post-test results in Fall 2013 showing improvement in select areas; the full paper will show four years of longitudinal data, the instrument as well as our evaluation of the results for course improvement).The pre- and post-tests are administered the first and last day of class. The assessment tool iscalled an ‘Engineering Skills Inventory’ so that students do not think of it as a traditional ‘test’;an attempt to minimize test anxiety, especially during the pre-test that is probably the students’first college-level assessment experience since it occurs the first day of their first engineeringclass. The Skills Inventory is a 20-question test that covers topics such as basic mathematicsskills, graph reading, elementary physics and engineering terms, and knowledge of the differentengineering disciplines. Students have 10 minutes to complete the online Skills Inventory duringthe class session. In addition to these major topic areas, updated course details (both pedagogyand logistics) will be presented. a. b.Fig. 1. a) Pre- and post-test results and b) improvement in skills (difference between post- and pre-testscores) of the Fall 2013 first-year engineering core course. The results show significant skillsimprovement in select areas with little or no loss of skills. For example, Questions H-M coveredengineering units and the units module in the Core Course showed success in improving this skill.

Caverly, R. H., & Weinstein, R., & O'Brien, J. C., & Park, S., & Char, E. S., & Komlos, J. (2015, June), A Core Course Component in a Project-based First-year Engineering Experience Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23368

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