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An Introductory Overview of Strategies used to Reduce Attrition in Engineering Programs

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session


Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Niranjan Hemant Desai Purdue University Northwest

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Name: Dr Niranjan Desai
Ph.D Civil Engineering
University of Louisville, USA

MES (Master of Engineering Studies) Civil Engineering
University of Sydney, Australia

BTECH (Bachelor of Technology)
Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, India.

Work Experience:
Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering, Purdue University North Central (2013 - Present)

Engineering Intern, Watrous Associates Architects, (2011 - 2013)

Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant, University of Louisville, (2006 - 2011)
Tata Bluescope Steel Ltd
Designation: Design Manager

Desai, N., & McGinley, W.M. "A study of the out-of-plane performance of brick veneer wall systems in medium rise buildings under seismic loads." Engineering Structures 48 (2013) 683 694.

Desai, N., & McGinley, W.M. "Effects of brick veneer wall systems loaded in-plane on the seismic response of medium rise buildings." Proc. The 12th Canadian Masonry Symposium, Vancouver, Canada, June 2013.

Alan H. Yorkdale Memorial Award, 2014.

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George Stefanek Purdue University Northwest

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Ph.D. Electrical Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology

M.S. BioEngineering, University of Illinois at Chicago

B.S. Purdue University

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This paper describes techniques that have been incorporated into engineering programs across the country in order to improve the learning experience for undergraduate engineering students. Engineering programs in the United States are faced with the challenging problem of decreased retention rates at the undergraduate level. It has been observed that most students drop out of engineering programs within the first two years. A comprehensive literature review that summarizes the attempts made by different universities across the United States to increase retention in engineering programs by making structural changes in the way that these programs are taught, is presented. Generally, four common themes were observed between the different approaches that were studied in this paper. The themes include: 1) improving the students’ foundation in mathematics and physics both in terms of theory, and the application of these subjects in engineering; 2) Making the engineering curriculum more hands-on by including projects at the freshman level and introducing a problem-based learning approach into the engineering curriculum from the start of the degree program; 3) Increasing the use of technology in the classroom, since the modern generation has grown up using it, and 4) Enhancing social interaction between students and also between students and faculty in order to provide the students with a sense of community and support in the challenging new environment of college engineering, and 5) to develop the ability to work together in teams as they will be required to do so in engineering fields. A variety of strategies are presented in order to meet the above mentioned goals. The main purpose of this paper is to provide engineering faculty members and administrators that are attempting to increase retention in their programs, with a resource that will provide them with a general idea of the strategies that have already been attempted. This will help them make informed decisions while attempting to increase retention in their engineering programs.

Desai, N. H., & Stefanek, G. (2017, June), An Introductory Overview of Strategies used to Reduce Attrition in Engineering Programs Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27584

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