June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
23.262.1 - 23.262.15
Building the Whole Engineer: An Integrated Academic and Co-Curricular First-Year ExperienceRetention of engineering students is a nation-wide concern that will affect the strength of thefuture engineering workforce and the position of the United States as the dominant world playerin engineering and technology. Increasing the number of undergraduate engineers can beaccomplished by recruitment, retention, or a combination of both.At , our College of Engineering has developed a uniqueapproach to building a supporting environment in which academic, co-curricular, support, andsocial activities are intertwined to support the development of first-year engineering students intoyoung engineering professionals. Instructors, peers, advisors, staff, and faculty all play a role indeveloping the “whole engineer.”Academic and co-curricular activities are centered around a single residence hall that houses theincoming first year students in the program and returning engineering undergraduate peermentors on each floor. The residence hall also contains the classrooms and laboratories for thecommon courses, Introduction to Engineering Design and Introduction to Engineering Modeling.Also located in the residence hall are walk-in academic advising, targeted tutoring for math,physics and chemistry, evening programs on engineering topics and career opportunities. As partof the program's focus on supporting the whole student, there are also social programs andvolunteer service opportunities. To ensure that students understand the importance ofengineering in the real world, corporate sponsors provide additional programming focused onengineering grand challenges of the 21st century.In Spring, 2012, we surveyed all students who were enrolled in engineering majors (> 3000), and831 responded. Of those, 208 (25%) had participated in the residential program with all havingbeen part of the academic program. The survey was intended to capture students’ attitudes andexperiences with regard to our first-year program. Focusing on the portion of the survey thataddressed students’ connection to the college and discipline, students felt that our first-yearexperience (percentage strongly agree/agree): i) was a factor in my decision to attend MSU’sCollege of Engineering (37%); ii) made me more committed to engineering as a major (60%);iii) enabled me to connect with non-engineering students living in the residence hall (60%); iv)helped me feel more a part of the College of Engineering than if I would have lived in anotherresidence hall (70%); and v) was the best living situation for the student (82%).We also asked about their experiences with programmatic aspects of the first-year experience.Respondents were very positive or positive about these programs (number of responses; percentvery positive/positive): i) in-house tutoring (274; 95%); ii) academic advising (452; 85%); iii)evening programs (279; 92%); and iv) a faculty mentoring program (268; 85%). In the full paper,we will report on additional survey data, including open-ended responses, in greater detail.We feel these data demonstrate our efforts to support the whole engineer are succeeding inpreparing students for their academic careers and for being successful 21st century engineers.
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