June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Electrical and Computer
13.406.1 - 13.406.10
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.
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. https://peer.asee.org/3874
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