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Enhancement And Assessment Of A Non Traditional Engineering Design Course

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Design and the Community

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.563.1 - 10.563.12



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Paper Authors

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Carol Haden

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John Tester

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Jerry Hatfield

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

Enhancement and Assessment of a Non-Traditional Engineering Design Course John T. Tester, Carol Haden, Jerry Hatfield Northern Arizona University

Abstract – At Northern Arizona University, an interdisciplinary sophomore design course – EGR 286 – has undergone a fundamental shift in its innovative and award-winning course structure. This shift is part of a Hewlett Foundation-supported development effort to encourage recruitment and retention of engineering students, with an emphasis on under-represented student populations. The course revitalization is centered upon enabling more direct student participation in design projects. It begins with two-person design teams that design, build and test weekly projects involving LEGO® parts, sensors, and the Robotic Command eXplorer (RCX). Control of the automated systems requires programming in both RoboLab (a LabViewTM derivative) and in the “Not Quite C” (NQC) environments. The course develops in the semester to finally encompass larger design teams of fourteen students, with each team designing a complex, autonomous, robotic-styled system. An important part of this course development is the integration of assessment procedures that record the students’ perception of learning and enthusiasm. We present an overview of the course enhancements and objectives. Assessment categories include the students’ self-efficacy in their ability to design/build/test electro-mechanical devices, as well as their level of enthusiasm and motivation towards engineering as a chosen career. The assessments are accomplished before and after the course revisions for comparison.

Index Terms –Student retention, design education, engineering education, Legos, Mindstorms. Introduction The College of Engineering and Natural Sciences (CENS) at Northern Arizona University (NAU) is renovating the way it recruits, educates and graduates engineering students. With the aid of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, CENS is actively assessing its regional recruitment resources for incoming freshmen, as well as restructuring its courses to excite and encourage currently-enrolled students to stay in engineering. NAU is the smallest of three Arizona universities offering undergraduate engineering education programs. While the larger University of Arizona and Arizona State University (ASU) enrollments have increased since 1998, NAU CENS enrollments in engineering has remained flat.[1]

Enrollment must increase in order for the CENS to maintain a vital engineering education program and to increase CENS’s availability to students from under-represented populations in the four- corners region of the Southwest. We subsequently applied for and received a five-year grant under the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Engineering Schools of the West Initiative to aid in increasing ongoing enrollment. There are basically two ways to increase enrollment (and thereby inferred, graduations) of engineering students: 1) increase the numbers of entering freshmen and transfer students, and 2) increase retention of currently-enrolled students. The topic of this paper is primarily associated with retention of sophomore engineering students.

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Haden, C., & Tester, J., & Hatfield, J. (2005, June), Enhancement And Assessment Of A Non Traditional Engineering Design Course Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14882

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