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Broadening Engineering Orientation for First-Year Students

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

First-Year Programs: First-Year Experiences

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Jill Davishahl Western Washington University

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Jill Davishahl is Assistant Professor and First Year Programs Director in the Engineering + Design department at Western Washington University. Jill's teaching, service, and research activities focus on enhancing the engineering and design first year student experience by providing the foundational technical skills, student engagement opportunities, and professional skill development necessary to improve success in the major, with emphasis on supporting traditionally underserved student populations. Her current research focuses on creating inclusive and equitable learning environments through the development and implementation of strategies geared towards increasing student sense of belonging.

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Jeffrey L. Newcomer Western Washington University

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Dr. Jeffrey L. Newcomer is a Professor of Manufacturing Engineering and Chair of the Engineering and Design Department at Western Washington University. He received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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This complete evidence-based practice paper presents a new model for an engineering orientation session that is focused on building student awareness of the importance of diversity, inclusion, and equity. Students new to engineering are typically aware of the courses they need to take to enter the major, the graduation requirements they must complete to become an engineer, and have some understanding of the technical attributes necessary for success in engineering. However, most students are unaware of the importance of the social and emotional aspects of their professional development and the relevance to their future as engineers. As such, many engineering students enter the major with little to no thought given to the importance of developing positive, respectful relationships with peers.

As we enter an age when diversity is highly valued, inclusion and equity are becoming common terms associated with learning and work environments. ABET EAC Student Outcome 5 specifies creating “a collaborative and inclusive environment” as part of teamwork, and, as such, it is essential we educate our incoming students on these topics and provide support for their social and emotional development as part of their professional development.

The authors present a new model for an engineering orientation for first-year students that introduces them to professional codes of conduct and educates students on the importance of acting professionally and ethically in classrooms, laboratories, makerspaces, and even in the hallways. The orientation also introduces students to the notion of inclusion and equity in engineering and has them reflect on the importance of these elements to their development, both as students and professional engineers. By building awareness of inclusion, equity, and professionalism early in students’ academic career, the authors aim to create more inclusive and equitable learning environments that lead to a more diverse engineering student body and ultimately, engineering workforce, by increasing student sense of belonging. This paper includes a detailed description of the orientation session, a summary of student feedback, and a discussion on how the orientation has been adapted for online participation.

Davishahl, J., & Newcomer, J. L. (2021, July), Broadening Engineering Orientation for First-Year Students Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36756

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