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An Evaluation Of An Integrated Pre Engineering Program: Results From The Freshman Year And Beyond

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.68.1 - 4.68.22

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Paper Authors

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W. F. Walker

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S. MacGuire

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L. D. Benefield

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Glennelle Halpin

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Gerald Halpin

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

Session 2353

An Evaluation of an Integrated Pre-Engineering Program: Results From the Freshman Year and Beyond

Glennelle Halpin, Gerald Halpin, Larry D. Benefield, William F. Walker, Susanne MacGuire Auburn University


In the fall of 1996, faculty in engineering, mathematics, and physics departments at Auburn University launched an experimental pre-engineering program. The 2-year program consists of a team-taught sequence of mathematics, engineering, and physics courses that have been integrated so as to enable pre-engineering students to grasp the interrelatedness of the concepts in each of these domains. The program is undergirded by a strong and comprehensive mathematics foundation. Enhanced usage of computing/visualization technology and an academic environment specifically structured to encourage and motivate students to learn are also programmatic features. Reported in this paper are results from an on-going evaluation of this program.

I. Introduction

An educated workforce capable of responding to the diverse demands and complex problems in this time of rapidly changing world conditions is no longer a preference but a necessity. Even though a schooled populace is crucial, an alarming percentage of the students who matriculate into institutions of higher education fail to graduate. Over half of the students--1.5 million of the 2.4 million who entered in 1993--will leave their first institution without a degree1. This general exodus is mirrored in math, science, and engineering programs as well. Hewitt and Seymour2 noted an attrition rate of 60% from math, science, and engineering programs. Results from a retention study3,4,5,6 conducted at Auburn University, a major land-grant university with a strong engineering program, were similar. Here, also, approximately 60% of the students indicating as freshmen an intention to major in engineering actually did not persist to graduation with a degree in the area. Lack of relevance in the pre-engineering curriculum has been cited as a contributing factor7.

In response to the demonstrated need for a more applicable early experience, an experimental integrated pre-engineering curriculum (IPEC) 8 was developed and implemented fall 1996 with sponsorship from the National Science Foundation. The fundamental goals of this project were as follows: 1. To improve the students’ depth of understanding of the mathematical models of the physical world; 2. To deepen students’ understanding of the physical principles that are the foundation of engineering problems; 3. To increase students’ use of mathematical models in solving basic engineering problems; 4. To increase students’ involvement and sense of belonging in and personal commitment to the academic community;

Walker, W. F., & MacGuire, S., & Benefield, L. D., & Halpin, G., & Halpin, G. (1999, June), An Evaluation Of An Integrated Pre Engineering Program: Results From The Freshman Year And Beyond Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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