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Engineering Transfer Seminar: A Course to Enhance the Engineering Experience

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

FPD VIII: Crossing Bridges and Easing Transitions into the First Year

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.564.1 - 25.564.11



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Paper Authors


David Jones University of Nebraska, Lincoln

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David Jones is a professor of biological systems engineering and the Associate Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

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Carmen R. Zafft University of Nebraska, Lincoln

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Carmen R. Zafft is a doctoral candidate pursuing a degree in human sciences, with a specialization in leadership studies at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Department of Agricultural Leadership Education and Communication. Her research interests include leadership and diversity, leadership identity, leadership development, and engineering education.

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Evan T. Curtis University of Nebraska, Lincoln

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Evan Curtis received his B.S. and M.S. in biological systems engineering from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He is the Student Services Coordinator in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

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Engineering Transfer Seminar: A Course to Enhance the Engineering Experience In an effort to meet the rising demands for engineers, a large research institution in themid-west, in partnership with the state’s six community colleges, sought to increase the numberand success of community college transfer students entering into engineering. This effort,leveraged through a National Science Foundation grant, developed and institutionalized aneffective pathway for community college students to complete select freshman and sophomoreengineering courses that transfer to the university’s College of Engineering. Historically, upon admission to the university, transfer students were not familiar with thetools and resources needed to have a successful transition to the College of Engineering. Norwere students prepared for the increased academic work load and the enlarged number of scienceand engineering courses or environmental factors such as increased class sizes. Furthermore,students’ learning styles were often slow to adapt to instructors that are more content centricrather than student centric. These factors are indications of the low level of preparation fortransfer students who transfer from the community college to the four-year university. Inresponse, the decision was made to develop and implement an Engineering Transfer Seminar.The seminar is a required pass/no pass, seven week, zero-credit hour course designed to providetransfer students with the means to have a successful transition to the university and the Collegeof Engineering. Students transferring to the College of Engineering with 65 or more credits arerequired to register for and complete this course as a requirement for graduation. Through diverse teaching strategies such as lecture, group discussion, individualassignments, and team learning students are exposed to the following topics: (1) transfer shock,(2) academic accountability, (3) university online systems, (4) developing relationships withadvisers and faculty, (5) ensuring transfer of credits, (6) academic goals, (7) career developmentstrategies (8) campus involvement, and (9) research opportunities. For a majority of the enrolled students, the Engineering Transfer Seminar course was oneof the first courses he or she was taking since transferring to the university. As a result, theissue of transfer shock (e.g. the initial reduced academic achievement of students compared tothe previous enrolled institution) provided awareness of potential pitfalls and frustrations that canoccur to transfer students. To alleviate any potential angst an academic transfer specialist visitedwith students in class about academic transfer issues including steps for solving problems withtransfer credits not counting toward a certain degree. In coordination with the visit, studentsparticipated in an assignment to establish short term and long term goals that could be sharedwith his or her academic adviser. Strategies were also discussed for how to achieve an optimaladvising experience and the value of having a plan when meeting with an adviser. Additionally,academic administrators demonstrated to students how to utilize tools such as a degree auditingsystem to navigate curriculum requirements. Furthermore, students involved in the courseprovided interactive weekly personal interaction with the instructors on how his or her semesterwas progressing as well as concerns over recent exams, student organization pursuits, andinternship preparation. Additional student instigated discussions included an inquiry into thevalue of becoming a professional engineer and why students should plan on taking tests such asthe Fundamental of Engineering exam. For the team exercise, students were placed in groups of three to four students for the taskto select an engineering program offered by the College of Engineering and compose a surveypaper that would provide a general overview of the engineering discipline as well as factors likeworking conditions, average earnings, and necessary education. Once the teams wereestablished, students engaged in a Kolb’s learning style exercise that enabled students to identifythe strengths and weaknesses of his or her learning style as well as consider how that learningstyle would potentially affect the team’s performance. In this paper we will discuss the design, implementation, and purpose of the EngineeringTransfer Seminar and its function within the grant. Our intent is to provide a course model forinstitutions seeking to improve the transition of engineering students from the communitycollege to the four-year institution. The discussion will also include student feedback andcurrent evaluation strategies as well as potential modifications that could be made to add morevalue for future offerings of the seminar.

Jones, D., & Zafft, C. R., & Curtis, E. T. (2012, June), Engineering Transfer Seminar: A Course to Enhance the Engineering Experience Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21321

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