Asee peer logo

Central California Engineering Design Challenge: A Unique Collaborative First–Year Experience

Download Paper |


2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

First-Year Advising and Transition

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.311.1 - 14.311.11

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Maria Sanchez California State University, Fresno

author page

Ira Sorensen California State University, Fresno

author page

Walter Mizuno California State University, Fresno

author page

Satya Mahanty California State University, Fresno

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Central California Engineering Design Challenge: A unique collaborative first –year experience This paper describes a unique collaboration between the Mechanical Engineering Department at Fresno State and the engineering programs at several local community colleges to provide a mechanical design competition for first-year students at the respective institutions. The competition provides a challenging and stimulating first-year design experience for the students, and helps strengthen the relationship between the university and several community colleges that typically provide transfer students.

The Central California Engineering Design Challenge, currently in its 10th year, is a mechanical engineering design competition with the purpose of engaging students and instructors of first year engineering design courses at Fresno State and several community colleges in the Central California area. In addition to Fresno State, there are typically up to five community colleges involved in the competition, and students compete for the BEST (Brightest Engineering Student Team) award. The competition is integrated as a major component of the curriculum in the first-year design course at each of the participating institutions. The objectives of the competition are both curricular and institutional. The curricular objectives are (1) to introduce students to a structured mechanical design methodology, (2) enhance communication, teaming, and interpersonal skills, (3) have the students physically realize and test a mechanical system, and (4) to improve written and oral communication skills by documenting the entire experience through a design report and presentation. Institutional objectives are (1) to enhance recruiting efforts by creating a pipeline of students from participating community colleges, (2) enhance retention by providing an engaging “hands-on” design experience in the first mechanical engineering course, and (3) promote stronger ties between faculty at Fresno State and the surrounding community colleges. As Fresno State is an urban- campus with a large population of community-college transfers, this last point provides many dividends in recruiting, curriculum articulation, teaming on grants, etc.

The curricular benefits to the students are assessed using various instruments, including interviews, surveys and course evaluation forms. The effect on recruiting is evaluated by studying how the percentage of students that choose to transfer to Fresno State from engineering programs at participating community colleges has changed since the inception of the competition as compared to trends from non-participating schools. Retention and graduation rates of students that participated in the competition, as either a student at Fresno State or a participating community college, are compared to students that did not participate (i.e. transfer students from non-participating schools).


The Central California Engineering Design Challenge was originally conceived in response to a growing recognition of the importance of a shared freshman design experience. It is an engineering design competition developed collaboratively by the faculty in the Mechanical Engineering Department at California State University, Fresno, (hereafter referred to as Fresno State) and engineering faculty at several local community

Sanchez, M., & Sorensen, I., & Mizuno, W., & Mahanty, S. (2009, June), Central California Engineering Design Challenge: A Unique Collaborative First–Year Experience Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015