June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.700.1 - 26.700.11
Evolution of a First-Year Engineering CourseIn this paper, we describe the evolution of a First-Year Engineering program at a western publicuniversity. Driven by a desire to improve retention rates in engineering and with strong supportfrom the Dean’s office, the university received a grant to modify the First-Year Engineeringcurriculum along with other modifications to early STEM courses to improve studentachievement in these courses and better prepare the students for subsequent engineeringcoursework. We evaluated several options for modifying the First-Year Engineering course, andafter seeing data on the positive outcomes associated with the Wright State integratedmathematics curriculum decided to adopt this approach at our institution.The original First-Year Engineering course was a project-based lecture and lab class. Studentsworked in teams to design, analyze and implement solutions to a variety of open-endedengineering problems including designing and implementing a manufacturing process anddesigning and building a wind turbine. Along with gaining experience with the iterative designprocess, they were exposed to the breadth of opportunities available to engineers in the variousdisciplines through a series of guest lectures and class assignments.The modification to the First-Year engineering curriculum began with establishing a pilot sectionof the First-Year Engineering course that utilized the Wright State model to explore how thisapproach would work on our campus and learn how to implement it before adopting this modelfor the entire First-Year Engineering program. Analyzing student outcomes for the course, wefound that students participating in the pilot had higher median grades and a slightly higher passrate in their co-enrolled Calculus I class than those students enrolled in the standard section ofthe First-Year Engineering course.Based on the positive experience with the pilot of the course modeled on the Wright Statecurriculum model, we decided to modify all of the sections of the First-Year Engineering courseto include a stronger emphasis on mathematics content and preparation and exposure to Matlabprogramming. We did not want to entirely abandon the strong design focus of the earliercurriculum, so we developed and are currently teaching a hybrid course that incorporates bothengineering design and a stronger emphasis on mathematics than previous versions of the course.The current version of the course maintains some of the open-ended design projects from theoriginal course, including designing and building a small-scale generator and wind turbine. Wealso modified some of the activities to include stronger integration of mathematics, includingreplacing building and tensile testing a small-scale bridge with building and analyzing 2Dtrusses. This provides students the opportunity to both investigate the physical structure in laband develop and analyze a theoretical model using Matlab.We will evaluate the effectiveness of the new course by examining both grades in concurrentenrollment mathematics courses and longitudinally tracking students’ success and persistence insubsequent engineering and mathematics courses.
Salzman, N., & Callahan, J., & Hunt, G. L., & Sevier, C., & Moll, A. J. (2015, June), Evolution of a First-year Engineering Course Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24037
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