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A Pre Engineering Class To Retain Students Into An Engineering Major

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

FPD1 - Early Success and Retention

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.82.1 - 13.82.10



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Paper Authors


Donna Reese Mississippi State University

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Donna S. Reese. Professor Reese is currently the Associate Dean for Academics and Administration for the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University and a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering. She has been on the faculty at MSU since 1989. She may be reached via email at

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Robert Green Mississippi State University

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Robert A. Green is the Undergraduate Coordinator for the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University. He has a BS degree in Chemical Engineering, an MS degree in Mechanical Engineering, and an MA in National Security and Strategic Studies from the US Naval War College. He is also pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration at Mississippi State. He is a registered professional engineer and was a research engineer for 14 years prior to assuming his current position.

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

A Pre-Engineering Class to Help Students Gain Admittance Into an Engineering Major


In the fall of 2001, the Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University instituted admissions criteria into the college. Prior to fall 2001 any student admitted to the university who expressed a desire to major in engineering was admitted directly to the college. Since this time, students who are admitted into the university expressing an interest in engineering who do not meet these criteria are admitted as undecided majors with a pre-engineering concentration. The admissions criteria were established by studying the graduation rates of students entering the college. The admissions criteria are a combination of high school GPA and ACT scores. Students in this designation are advised by a special advisor in the academic advising center and can be admitted to engineering upon successful completion of English Composition I, Calculus I, and Fundamentals of Chemistry. Approximately 100 students annually are admitted with this designation.

From 2001-2005 these students were studied to determine the rate at which they matriculated into engineering from this designation. This study determined that very few of these students ever successfully gained admission into engineering. While not all of these students were capable of being successful in engineering, some of these students could be successful if they made up deficiencies in their backgrounds (generally deficiencies in mathematics). More troubling to the college was the disproportionate number of minority students who were represented in this group.

In the spring of 2006 the college instituted a one-hour Introduction to Engineering class for this group of students. This class has enrolled 65-85 students in three offerings since this time (spring 2006, fall 2006, and fall 2007). All students who are in the pre-engineering designation who have not had the course are strongly encouraged to enroll. This course includes an overview of each of our engineering majors as well as personal development topics such as study skills, time management, technical communications and learning styles.

This paper will discuss the topics covered in the course and level of expectation for the students, and feedback from the students on the benefits of this class.


Mississippi State is a public, land-grant, doctoral, research university classified as Doctoral/Research-Extensive by the Carnegie Foundation. Enrollment is approximately 17,000 students. The Bagley College of Engineering enrolls approximately 2,500 students, 2,000 of which are undergraduates. The College awards approximately 370 B.S. degrees per year through ten engineering programs (aerospace, biological, chemical, civil, computer, electrical, industrial, mechanical, software, and computer science). Demographically, approximately 12 percent of the Bagley College of Engineering undergraduates are African-American and 18 percent are female. Also, the Bagley College of Engineering ranks in the top 10 percent among U.S. colleges of engineering in research expenditures (~$58M).

Reese, D., & Green, R. (2008, June), A Pre Engineering Class To Retain Students Into An Engineering Major Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3429

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