Asee peer logo

Development Of A Freshman And Pre Freshman Research And Design Program In Electrical Engineering

Download Paper |


2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

New Trends in ECE Education I

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.406.1 - 13.406.10



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Mary Baker Texas Tech University

author page

Brian Nutter Texas Tech University

author page

Mohammed Saed Texas Tech University

Download Paper |

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

Development of a Freshman and Pre-Freshman Research and Design Program in Electrical Engineering


It is well-known that involving students in activities and courses within their major early in their academic careers has a positive impact on student retention. We have developed several programs targeted at involving freshmen and pre-freshmen students in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) projects. Teams of 4 to 5 students were formed, with at least one ECE freshman, a high school student (or recent graduate), a junior or senior level ECE student, and a community college student. Students were paid as interns for a six-week summer session. An industry or community mentor and an ECE faculty member were assigned to each team. Projects included: re-engineering an adaptive bicycle to enable use by a physically disabled child; designing a fall detector to automatically detect a fall in an elderly person; and, implementing smart sensors to measure energy and water use in a residential environment. Students were required to give weekly presentations to the faculty members and other teams in a formal setting. In assessing the success of the program in general and of each team’s progress, several factors were determined to be significant. The presence of a strong peer role model and an active industry mentor influenced the level of involvement of each team member and the progress each team made toward achieving their project goals.


This paper describes a program in the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at Texas Tech University that provides research and design opportunities for freshmen and pre-freshmen engineering students. The goal of the program was to increase recruitment and retention of students in ECE by exposing them to engineering through paid internships that focused on projects with social or community significance. The program was designed to address several key issues present when involving freshmen, high school, and community college students in engineering research and design. Among these: many students do not have a clear knowledge of what engineers do or of the engineering problem solving approach; faculty tend to be overwhelmed with the amount of time required to supervise very inexperienced students who have not amassed any technical knowledge or skills; and finally, students, particularly those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, typically work and do not have the time to commit to summer or extended hour programs. These issues were addressed in various ways as the program was developed.

Pedagogical Background

The authors’ motivations in developing this program were to increase engineering enrollment by bringing new students into the field and to improve student retention by exciting these students about engineering careers. Respondents to an ACT survey in 2004 reported by Habley1 rated 24 institutional and 20 student characteristics for contribution

Baker, M., & Nutter, B., & Saed, M. (2008, June), Development Of A Freshman And Pre Freshman Research And Design Program In Electrical Engineering Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3874

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: © 2008 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