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Active-Learning-Based Engineering at a Community College: A Key to Student Success

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Focus on the Classroom: Innovative Pedagogies

Tagged Division

Two Year College Division

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Michael E. Pelletier Northern Essex Community College

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Professor Emeritus of Computer Technology & Engineering
Northern Essex Community College
BEE, Villanova University
MSEE, Northeastern University
Additional graduate work in Computer Engineering, Northeastern University

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Linda A. Desjardins Northern Essex Community College

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Linda A. Desjardins is professor, English and Communications departments. She holds an ASLA from Northern Essex Community College, a BA in English, Secondary Education from University of Massachusetts, an MEd in Reading and Learning Disabilities from Salem University, and a CAGS in 20th Century American Literature and the Teaching of Writing from Northeastern University.

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Paul Chanley Northern Essex Community College

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Chanley is Chair of Engineering Science & Physics, Mathematics Faculty Member and Full Professor at Northern Essex Community College.

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Il (Johnny) Yoon Northern Essex Community College

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This paper describes an active-learning-based, first-year, introductory course for engineering students at a community college. The course emphasizes working in teams on hands-on projects, analyzing data with EXCEL, and programming with MATLAB. Assignments involve using EXCEL to display and analyze data for Ohm’s Law and the speed of sound in air, distance measuring using ultrasound, designing an ultrasonic range-finder, using programming in MATLAB to control the movement of a stepper-motor rotor, designing programs in MATLAB to identify different translucent materials from their visible spectra, and a final project combining the stepper-motor rotor with spectroscopy to automatically identify different oils by their spectra produced with visible light. Students are required to make presentations of the projects and the results obtained.

During the first four years of this course, Supplementary Instruction was gradually introduced and is now incorporated into all sections of the course including DCE offerings.

To document student success, data on student achievement in the course has been collected for twenty-two sections of the course over a span of four years. Additional data on course completion rates for this course will be presented and compared to course completion rates for other engineering courses in the community college and compared to the course completion rates for all courses in the community college. Longitudinal data on student persistence in engineering in the community college and on engineering students transferring to the university will also be presented.

Pelletier, M. E., & Desjardins, L. A., & Chanley, P., & Yoon, I. J. (2016, June), Active-Learning-Based Engineering at a Community College: A Key to Student Success Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26513

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