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Effects of Two Experientially-Correct Introduction to Engineering Modules on Prospective Female Engineering Students

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

WIED: Pre-College Student Experiences

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.463.1 - 24.463.11



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Paper Authors


Jerry Volcy Spelman College

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Jerry Volcy is President of JVLabs, LLC, COO or SoftWear Automation and a part-time member of the faculty at Spelman College. JVLabs is an engineering consultancy specializing in the advanced development of FPGA designs, microprocessor microcode and O/S device drivers. SoftWear Automation is a DARPA funded startup chartered to automate the manufacture of sewn goods through robotic automation. Dr. Volcy is a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology and holds multiple patents in the fields of fiber optics and electro-optics. His research interests include the areas of medical and bio-embedded processors as well as in the sustainable deployment of technology in developing nations.

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  Effects  of  Two  Experientially-­‐Correct  Introduction  To  Engineering     Modules  on  Prospective  Female  Engineering  Students      “Experientially  Correct  Introduction  to  Engineering”  (ECIE)  is  a  loosely  defined  term  coined   by   the   authors   to   refer   to   any   introductory   academic   engineering   exercise  that   deliberately   aims   to   incorporate   as   many   aspects   of   real-­‐engineering   as  possible   in   order   to   create   an   experience   that   accurately   reflects   the   practice   of  engineering.    For  incoming  students,  up  to  the  point  when  they  arrive  on  a  college  campus,  most  introductory  engineering  activity  is  intended  to  entice  or  awaken  the  student   to   the   possibilities   of   engineering.     ECIE   exercises,   on   the   other   hand,   aim  for   accuracy   of   practice   as   a   counter   measure   to   downstream   attrition   resulting  from   shifting   perceptions   of   engineering   as   students   progress   through   the  curriculum.     In   this   paper,   we   discuss   the   challenges   and   the   effects   of   developing  two   six-­‐week   summer   bridge   ECIE   modules   for   prospective   female   engineering  students   who   have   no   prior   technical   training   and   no   prior   skill   in   the   supporting  trades.     Details   of   module   development   philosophy   including   choice   of   activity,  technical   difficulty,   relevance,   disciplinary   diversity,   etc.   are   discussed.     Effects   of  the  modules  are  assessed  by  student  survey.    It  is  found  that  what  students  reported  to   be   their   greatest   surprise   about   engineering   based   on   their   ECIE   module  experience  can  be  generally  grouped  into  4  recurring  themes:    1)  Engineering  can  be  largely  trial-­‐and-­‐error  and  not  necessarily  math-­‐intensive.  2)  Engineering  is  highly  demanding   in   terms   of   attention   to   detail.   3)   Engineering   can   have   a   very   large  impact  on  society  4)  Engineering  can  be  an  isolating  discipline  for  the  practitioner.    Suggestions   on   how   this   insight   might   be   used   to   attract   and   retain   more   female  students  to  engineering  are  provided.      

Volcy, J. (2014, June), Effects of Two Experientially-Correct Introduction to Engineering Modules on Prospective Female Engineering Students Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20354

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