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Building a Sense of Community for Freshman Civil Engineering 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

Supporting Successful Progression From First-year Studies

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Erica J. Marti University of Nevada, Las Vegas Orcid 16x16

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Erica Marti completed her PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). She holds a Master of Science in Engineering and Master of Education from UNLV and a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to graduate studies, Erica joined Teach for America and taught high school chemistry in Las Vegas. While her primary research involves water and wastewater, she has strong interests in engineering education research, teacher professional development, and secondary STEM education. In 2021, Erica received the ASEE Pacific Southwest Early Career Teaching Award and two awards at UNLV for mentoring undergraduate and graduate students. She also received the Peter J. Bosscher Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award in 2019 from Engineers Without Borders and was recognized as a Nevada Woman in STEM by Senator Jackie Rosen.

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Eakalak Khan University of Nevada, Las Vegas

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Eakalak Khan is a Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Construction Department and the Director of Water Resources Research Program, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. From 2002 to 2017, he was a Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, North Dakota State University (NDSU). He also served as the Chair of Civil Engineering Department, NDSU from 2010 to 2013. Prior to NDSU, he was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, Polytechnic University, New York from 1999 to 2002. He received his Bachelor of Engineering in Environmental Engineering from Chiang Mai University, Thailand in 1990, M.S. in Agricultural Engineering from University of Hawaii in 1993, and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1997. In 1998, he was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Institute of Environment, UCLA. Eakalak has published more than 135 refereed journal articles. He was awarded a CAREER grant from NSF in 2005. His honors include the NDSU Odney Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2008; Researcher of the Year, College of Engineering, NDSU, 2005; Water B. Booth Endowed Distinguished Professorship, NDSU, 2017; and Water Environment Federation Fellow, 2019.

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Amit Gajurel University of Nevada, Las Vegas Orcid 16x16

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I am a Ph.D. student in Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Construction in University of Nevada Las Vegas. I completed Master of Science in Tropical Hydrogeology and Environmental Engineering from Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany. I hold a Bachelors in Civil Engineering from Kathmandu University, Nepal. My primary fields of researches are disinfection byproducts, water treatment and wastewater.

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Neil Christian Ledesma Tugadi

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Across the country, less than two-thirds of engineering students persist and earn a degree in engineering. A considerable amount of research on the topic has been conducted, leading to a few key ideas on why students leave engineering. In particular, disinterest in the curriculum, a limited sense of belonging, perception of inadequate academic ability, and disconnect between learning style and instruction mode are some reasons that students depart engineering. Consequently, many first-year programs aim to address one or more of these issues. The ABC program at XXX seeks to improve undergraduate civil engineering and construction management education, as well as increase retention and graduation by specifically focusing on students and curriculum in the first two years of the civil & environmental engineering and construction management (CEEC/CM) programs. Retention and graduation rates are on the lower side of national averages; therefore, faculty at the institution are taking the lead and making changes within the department. One aspect of the program is community cohesion building (CCB), where first-year students create connections, engage in community and engineering design projects, and gain exposure to CEEC/CM professions. Specific objectives are to increase the sense of learning community among students and between students and faculty, as well as increase retention in the first two years. Through biweekly meetings, participants in CCB build connections with freshman CEEC/CM peers, upper level CEEC/CM undergraduate students, CEEC graduate students, and CEEC/CM faculty. Participants also engage in the engineering design process and compete in a national engineering design challenge geared toward freshman and sophomore students. This paper describes the first one-and-a-half years of CCB implementation of a five-year grant. We present the program structure, challenges, changes, and successes. This information should prove useful to other institutions who are in the process of implementing new first-year programs, especially for institutions who have similar characteristics (i.e., urban setting, commuter school, highly diverse, high proportion of first generation students). Program evaluation focuses on the following items related to CCB objectives: 1) increase in sense of belonging as measured by an increase in social networks (tool: student survey), and 2) increase in CEEC/CM retention between freshman/sophomore and sophomore/junior years (tool: institutional data).

Marti, E. J., & Khan, E., & Gajurel, A., & Tugadi, N. C. L. (2021, July), Building a Sense of Community for Freshman Civil Engineering Students Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36762

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