Asee peer logo

A New Model For A Multidisciplinary, Introductory Engineering Course

Download Paper |


2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.43.1 - 5.43.6



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Douglas L. Jones

author page

Bunny J. Tjaden

Download Paper |

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

Session 236

A New Model for an Introductory, Multidisciplinary Freshman Engineering Course Bunny J. Tjaden, Douglas L. Jones The George Washington University


Like many engineering schools, we are striving to find a solid prototype upon which to base a successful introductory, multidisciplinary engineering course. All freshmen in our engineering school are required to enroll in a two-credit orientation course. The course objectives are to provide an introduction to all School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) disciplines, build a sense of community, introduce success strategies for college, acquaint students with the university, and lay a foundation of introductory discipline-specific topics upon which their curriculum will build. Our majors include computer science as well as various engineering disciplines. We, like other engineering schools, have struggled with the common challenges of frustrated faculty and bored students [1,2]. In the past, large entire-cohort lectures have proven unsatisfactory because a single topic does not hold the attention of students across the various majors. Additionally, the interaction between the presenter and the students is more restricted in a large group situation producing passive, rather than active learners. Our course has evolved into a variation of a hub and spoke model, and it has become a true multi-media experience.

1. Introduction

We have recently been struggling with our introductory engineering model, examining other models, and searching for the single course that will satisfy the needs of both faculty and students. We wanted our course to include the strengths of other engineering orientation courses such as community building, study and time management skills, and an introduction to the university and school [3,4]. At the same time we wanted it to emphasize design. The design problems that we included in previous versions of the course, such as designing the highest paper tower or the strongest weight bearing structure from specified material, were deemed to be too simplistic by the students. Even a major group design project of building a device to aid the disabled was less than successful, from the students’ point of view. They wanted more complex and realistic projects. They also were impatient to obtain some “real engineering” experience rather than waiting until their sophomore year [5]. When one considers that engineering students are generally among the most capable due to stringent entrance requirements, it seems reasonable

Jones, D. L., & Tjaden, B. J. (2000, June), A New Model For A Multidisciplinary, Introductory Engineering Course Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8592

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: © 2000 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