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A Student-mentored Design Challenge Competition for First-semester Freshman Engineering Students

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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 2: Design in the First Year: Challenges and Successes

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.113.1 - 26.113.12



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Paper Authors


Jill S. K. Nakatsu University of Hawaii at Manoa

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Jill Nakatsu is specialist faculty at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She is an academic advisor for the College of Engineering working in particular with the pre-engineering student population. In addition to academic advising, she teaches the introduction to engineering course for freshmen. She received both her BS and MS in electrical engineering. She worked as an engineer in the medical technology industry and has research interests in machine learning applications for automated design and pattern classification.

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A Student Mentored Design Challenge Competition for First Semester Freshmen Engineering StudentsThis paper summarizes the efforts to introduce a first semester freshmen engineering designchallenge with goals to increase persistence and retention while building community and supportfor first year freshmen. Connecting freshmen to the college community and engineeringdiscipline has been shown to the increase student retention and success. The challenge also aimsto increase freshmen participation in various engineering society student chapters, begin toidentify motivated students and student leaders within the freshmen population, and developleadership and mentorship skills in upper division students.The freshmen challenge is a semester long competition between teams of first year freshmen tosolve a problem using the engineering design process under the mentorship of upper divisionstudents from the engineering societies (such as IEEE, ASME, ASCE, etc.). The challengeallows for different multidisciplinary solutions that introduce freshmen to the differentengineering disciplines/majors. The challenge is intended to fill the gap of a lack of engineeringcourses/experiences during the first year when freshmen take math, science, and generaleducation courses outside of the engineering hall across the university campus. To furtherconnect freshmen to the college, the challenge incorporates and centers around the mainengineering building.The upper division student mentors from the engineering societies are encouraged to introducetheir faculty advisors and other faculty/staff to the freshmen. At the end of the semester, variousfaculty, staff, and administration from the college will judge the competition and have theopportunity to meet and talk with the up and coming freshmen. The teamwork and mentorshipinvolved in the challenge facilitates a sense of community throughout the college, between notonly freshmen peers but also with the upperclassmen, faculty, and staff. As the program iscurrently in its pilot stage, preliminary results on persistence and retention, freshmenparticipation in the societies and college events, and the results of the mentorship survey will bepresented.

Nakatsu, J. S. K. (2015, June), A Student-mentored Design Challenge Competition for First-semester Freshman Engineering Students Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23454

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