Asee peer logo

First Year Engineering: A Comprehensive Approach

Download Paper |


2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Multidisciplinary First Year Programs

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.589.1 - 15.589.14



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Timothy Hinds Michigan State University

visit author page

TIMOTHY J. HINDS is an Academic Specialist in the Michigan State University College of Engineering Undergraduate Studies and Department of Mechanical Engineering. He is the lead instructor and coordinator for the Cornerstone Engineering program teaching courses in engineering design and modeling. He has also taught courses in machine design, manufacturing processes, mechanics, computational tools and international product design as well as graduate-level courses in engineering innovation and technology management. He has over 25 years of combined academic and industrial management experience. He received his BSME and MSME degrees from Michigan Technological University.

visit author page


Thomas Wolff Michigan State University

visit author page

THOMAS F. WOLFF is Associate Professor of Civil Engineering and Associate Dean of Engineering for Undergraduate Studies at Michigan State University. From 1970 to 1985, he was a geotechnical engineer with the St. Louis District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Since 1985, on the faculty of MSU, he has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in geotechnical engineering and reliability analysis. His research and consulting has focused on the design and evaluation of dams, levees and hydraulic structures, and he has been involved in several studies related to the failure of New Orleans levees in hurricane Katrina. As Associate Dean, he oversees curriculum, advising, career planning, study abroad, early engineering and other related initiatives.

visit author page


Amanda Idema Michigan State University

visit author page

AMANDA G. IDEMA is the Director of Academic Advising for the College of Engineering at Michigan State University. She oversees the academic advising of 2500 undergraduate engineering students in 10 different majors, working with a staff of six professional advisers and two graduate student advisers. Amanda has been at MSU since 1997 and has experience in the Department of Residence Life, the Law College and most recently as an academic adviser in the College of Education. She is a PhD candidate in the Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education program at MSU, focusing her research on women's colleges that have had to pursue coeducation in order to survive.

visit author page

author page

Neeraj Buch Michigan State University


Carmellia Davis-King Michigan State University

visit author page

CARMELLIA DAVIS-KING is the Co-Curricular Director for the Engineering Residential Experience Program at Michigan State University. She is in charge of the daily operations of this living and learning program. To date there are 326 engineering residential student participants and an undergraduate student staff of 15 individuals that she is in charge of. She serves as an adviser for two undergraduate student organizations. She is also in charge of several initiatives in the College of Engineering at Michigan State University to increase the retention of undergraduate engineering students. Carmellia is a student advocate who has focused most of her career in higher education on promoting sustained engaged student experiences. Carmellia received her Masters Degree in Higher Education from Michigan State University.

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

First-Year Engineering: A Comprehensive Approach


Over the past four years, the College of Engineering at Michigan State University (MSU) has planned, developed, and implemented an integrated first-year engineering program and residential living-learning program. This single initiative of both curricular and co-curricular activities has given us a holistic approach to engaging and connecting with first-year engineering students.

The curricular piece of this integrated program, Cornerstone Engineering, consists of two introductory courses. The first provides a set of broad, team-based, hands-on design experiences as well as an introduction to topics common across all engineering disciplines. The second course introduces problem solving and mathematical modeling of engineering problems and systems. Much of the Cornerstone Engineering program has been developed from common themes contained within first-year courses previously offered by our six individual engineering departments and nine engineering degree programs.

These courses were piloted on a small scale during the 2007-08 academic year. They were then offered to all incoming first-year engineering students 2008-09. Following the two years of experience in delivering these courses, we were able to objectively examine course content as compared to course learning objectives and measured outcomes. This resulted in several modifications to both lecture content and delivery as well as to laboratory assignments as is detailed below.

Since 1993 the College of Engineering at MSU was actively involved with the Residential Option for Science and Engineering Students (ROSES) initiative. This was a residential living- learning program intended to provide a supportive and collegial environment for new freshmen intending to pursue majors and careers in technical fields. Starting in fall semester 2009, our new program, Engineering Residential Experience (ERE), transitioned that small-scale science and engineering residential program with approximately 150 students to a large-scale living- learning community program with a potential to accommodate more than 400 undergraduate engineering students. It also incorporated the Cornerstone Engineering program into a single facility.

We have developed a living and learning environment that assists students in thinking analytically and to succeed in the MSU College of Engineering. This community brings another dimension to our common first-year curriculum and further enhances student knowledge of the engineering profession, cultivates their problem solving skills, connects them with campus and community resources, and enhances their communication skills.

The development of the MSU Engineering Residential Experience includes much more than just the physical housing of first-year engineering students in a single residence hall. It also includes delivery of student service operations, including career services, freshman academic advising and peer-led tutoring sessions. Another aspect of our co-curricular program includes the

Hinds, T., & Wolff, T., & Idema, A., & Buch, N., & Davis-King, C. (2010, June), First Year Engineering: A Comprehensive Approach Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16567

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015