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Assessing Impact of Engineering Projects in Community Service on Engineering Freshmen Enrolled in Pre-Calculus

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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

First-Year Programs Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Magdalini Z. Lagoudas Texas A&M University

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Magda Lagoudas, Executive Director for Industry and Nonprofit Partnerships, Instructional Associate Professor, Dwight Look College of Engineering, Texas A&M University. Mrs. Lagoudas holds a BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering. She worked for the State of New York and industry before joining Texas A&M University in 1993. Since then, she developed and taught courses in the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Technology. In 2001, she joined the Spacecraft Technology Center as an Assistant Director where she was responsible for the structural and thermal analysis of payloads. She served as Director of the Space Engineering Institute and in 2010 she accepted a position with the Academic Affairs office of the Dwight Look College of Engineering where she oversaw outreach, recruiting, retention and enrichment programs for the college. Since 2013, she serves as the Executive Director for Industry and Nonprofit Partnerships with responsibilities to increase opportunities for undergraduates engineering students to engage in experiential learning multidisciplinary team projects. These include promoting capstone design projects sponsored by industry, developing the teaching the Engineering Projects in Community Service course, and developing curricular and co-curricular programs at the Engineering Innovation Center which promote innovation and entrepreneurship among engineering students and in collaborations with other colleges on campus and partnering with other institutions across the country.

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Kristi J. Shryock Texas A&M University

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Dr. Kristi J. Shryock is an Instructional Associate Professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Executive Director of Interdisciplinary Engineering in the Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University. She received her BS, MS, and PhD from the College of Engineering at Texas A&M. Kristi works to improve the undergraduate engineering experience through evaluating preparation in mathematics and physics, incorporating non-traditional teaching methods into the classroom, and engaging her students with interactive methods.

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Institutions across the nation are making significant efforts to develop K-12 programs and summer camps to recruit more ethnic minorities into engineering to support the growing needs of industry for diversity in workforce. However, while a diverse freshman-engineering cohort is essential, it is even more important that schools provide students with adequate support to be successful in their freshman year and thus increase their chances to be retained and graduate with an engineering degree. In particular, first generation and low-income students may enter college without proper academic preparation with fundamentals in mathematics, which may lead to low academic performance during their first year in engineering and impact their retention in engineering. To address this issue, engineering schools are investing resources in developing and offering remediation programs to ensure underrepresented minority students acquire the necessary fundamentals to be successful in their first calculus, physics and engineering courses in college. In this large public institution, all incoming engineering freshmen are required to take a math placement exam, which determines if they are calculus ready for their first mathematics course.

This study is focused on sixty-six freshmen who scored very low on their math placement exam, earning a score even below the recommended level for even placement in pre-calculus. The same students were advised to enroll in a one-credit hour project-based course with focus on engineering projects for community service. The one-credit hour course engaged students in two major team projects to provide them an opportunity to experience the engineering design process and engineering tools. The first project was the Raptor Reloaded project, which involved 3D printing an assembly of a mechanical hand, assembling the parts, and submitting the finished hand to the sponsor organization, e-NABLE, to be delivered to a person with a need for hand. The second project focused on a project need identified by each student team with focus on an engineering project to serve the community around our campus. At the same time, the students were enrolled in an intensive four-credit hour engineering mathematics fundamentals course that met four days a week. The focus of the course was engineering math skills with an intent of having the students be calculus ready at the end of the semester. Topics covered included algebra and trigonometry skills necessary for success in a subsequent engineering calculus course.

The cohort consists of 44% Hispanic and African American students with 28% female participants. We expect that co-enrolling students in remedial math while also engaging in engineering projects will have a positive impact on their academic performance and persistence in engineering after the first semester and in subsequent semesters.

In this study, we will describe the courses, student experiences with each project, and student outcomes at the end of the semester with focus on grades, skills attainment, course placement in engineering, and retention in engineering for the spring semester. The findings of this study will provide further contributions to research on the retention of students who enter engineering requiring remediation in mathematics.

Lagoudas, M. Z., & Shryock, K. J. (2016, June), Assessing Impact of Engineering Projects in Community Service on Engineering Freshmen Enrolled in Pre-Calculus Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26296

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