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ChemE Camp: A Two-Day Workshop to Increase Student Preparedness for Their Sophomore Year in Chemical Engineering (Work in Progress)

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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

Chemical Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

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Paper Authors

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Kevin P. Whittaker Louisiana State University

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Amiel Kirtikar Louisiana State University


Adam T. Melvin Louisiana State University

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Adam Melvin obtained a BS in Chemical Engineering and a BA in Chemistry from the University of Arizona, a MS in Chemical Engineering (with a minor in Biotechnology) and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from North Carolina State University under the direction of Jason Haugh. He was an NIH postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Departments of Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering under the direction of Nancy Allbritton. In August of 2013 he joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor in the Cain Department of Chemical Engineering at Louisiana State University. His current research interests include biomolecular engineering, point of care diagnostics, microfluidics, single cell analysis, chemical biology, algal chemotaxis and growth dynamics.

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Traditionally, the drop-out rate for students majoring in chemical engineering is the highest during the sophomore year. This can often be attributed to numerous factors including student interest in the major, student preparedness, knowledge of what chemical engineering is, and overall technical ability. To address this, the AIChE student chapter at Louisiana State University has developed a two-day series of professional development, academic, and team-building workshops hosted by upperclassmen students and sponsored by local industrial partners to better prepare rising freshman for their sophomore year in chemical engineering. Having completed many of their required pre-requisites, prospective students are about to embark upon their first core courses in the chemical engineering discipline in addition to starting to apply for internship and co-op opportunities. The camp first introduces students to the department through facilities tours and engagement with faculty and upperclassmen. During these faculty engagement sessions the students have an opportunity to meet their courses’ instructors, who offer tips for success and answer questions before any coursework begins. Upperclassmen serve as student mentors during the camp, offering informal advice and support. The camp also serves as a point of contact between students and local industry representatives recruiting intern and co-op candidates. Additionally, these local industry representatives offer valuable career-formation advice to the students by hosting resume review and mock interview sessions. Lastly, the camp builds relationships and camaraderie among the rising freshman. The students are divided into teams and required to complete a small research project in chemical engineering science or design. In completing this small project together, students grow more comfortable working in a collaborative team environment while gaining familiarity with chemical engineering fundamentals such as process safety. The relationships formed during the camp aim to give sophomore students a supportive network of classmates, student mentors, faculty members, and industry professionals in order to promote retention and student success in the chemical engineering curriculum. Here, we present our findings from the first two years of offering this camp including preliminary data correlating camp participation with student performance in their sophomore year courses and overall retention in the major. While preliminary in nature, the data collected thus far indicates that students who participate in the camp feel better prepared for their sophomore year which has led to enhanced course performance, greater involvement in the department, and a higher success rate in obtaining summer internships.

Whittaker, K. P., & Kirtikar, A., & Melvin, A. T. (2016, June), ChemE Camp: A Two-Day Workshop to Increase Student Preparedness for Their Sophomore Year in Chemical Engineering (Work in Progress) Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26493

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