Asee peer logo

A Modular Approach To Combining First Year Design Experiences Across Engineering Disciplines

Download Paper |


2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

FPD2 -- Highlighting First-Year Programs

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.71.1 - 11.71.11



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Marc Christensen Southern Methodist University

author page

David Willis Southern Methodist University

author page

Scott Douglas Southern Methodist University

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Modular Approach for Combining First-Year Design Experiences Across Engineering Disciplines

Abstract: We describe a joint effort to integrate engineering design in the first-year courses across the curricula of multiple departments at the host institution. A modular design approach allows for student interaction and teaming across two different design exercises, and early exposure of students from each engineering discipline is emphasized. Survey results indicate that the intervention is helpful in promoting engineering design and inter-discipline awareness for the students.

1. Introduction Recent data collected from U.S. colleges and universities indicate that fewer and fewer students are electing to study engineering. The number of students who study in all undergraduate engineering fields dropped from nearly 450,000 in 1983 to approximately 360,000 in 20001. As of 2003, about 2% of all U.S. high school graduates attain a degree in an engineering field2, with low representation from underrepresented groups3. About one out of every 100 female high school graduates attains a bachelor of science degree in an engineering field, and only one out of every 125 minority high school graduates achieves such a degree2. Given the corresponding increase in the advancement of technology over the past decade—exemplified by the rise of the Internet, the implementation of cellular and broadband wireless infrastructure, and the digitization of popular audio and visual media—such a decline is both surprising and detrimental to the long-term sustenance of our modern technology-driven society. Addressing this decline in engineering enrollments is likely to require a multi-faceted approach to recruitment, retention, and graduation of engineering students. Recruiting strategies in the precollege arena include 1) robotics competitions such as FIRST and BEST, and 2) educational programs such as Project Lead-the-Way, The Infinity Project, and Cisco Academies, which introduce and bring awareness of engineering principles and opportunities to young people in the classroom. These efforts set the stage for curricular changes at the college level, as students who are intrigued by engineering through a pre- college experience are likely to expect a four-year engineering education that is exciting, creative, and engaging from the moment they start their college careers. Many engineering schools are responding to the needs of such students by either offering new or re-tooling their existing introductory engineering curricula and experiences. Examples include the Engage Engineering Fundamentals Program at the University of Tennessee, the General Engineering Program at Clemson University, and the Texas Engineering Education Pipeline, a consortium of fourteen Texas universities funded through the joint governmental-industrial Texas Engineering and Technical Consortium (TETC). The implementation of introductory engineering curricula depends strongly on the structure of the particular college or university’s curriculum. Many college engineering retention studies agree that the first year of study is extremely important in determining if a student will persist and graduate with an engineering degree4. In institutions that have a common first-year engineering curriculum, it is possible to completely change the first- year experiences of all engineering students through the retooling of the common

Christensen, M., & Willis, D., & Douglas, S. (2006, June), A Modular Approach To Combining First Year Design Experiences Across Engineering Disciplines Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1297

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2006 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015