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First Year Engineering Student Definitions of Systems Engineering: A Comparison Between Two Institutions

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Conference

2022 First-Year Engineering Experience

Location

East Lansing, Michigan

Publication Date

July 31, 2022

Start Date

July 31, 2022

End Date

August 2, 2022

Conference Session

Technical Session M5A

Tagged Topic

Full Papers

Page Count

9

DOI

10.18260/1-2--42225

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/42225

Download Count

295

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Paper Authors

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Katrina L Carlson Michigan Technological University

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Katrina Carlson is currently working with a team of researchers at Michigan Technological University as a PhD student in Applied Cognitive Sciences and Human Factors.

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Akua B. Oppong-Anane Montana Technological University

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Akua Oppong-Anane is an Assistant Professor of Freshman Engineering at Montana Technological University. She holds a bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering, a master's degree in Chemistry and a doctoral degree in Environmental Engineering Sciences. Her research areas are in groundwater contamination at landfill sites, advising and retention of first year engineering students.

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Michelle E Jarvie-Eggart P.E. Michigan Technological University

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Dr. Jarvie-Eggart is a registered professional engineer with over a decade of experience as an environmental engineer. She is an Assistant Professor in the Engineering Fundamentals department at Michigan Technological University. Her research interests include online learning, CS/programming education, and service learning.

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Amanda Marie Singer Michigan Technological University

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Amanda Singer is a PhD student in the Department of Engineering Education at the Ohio State University. Prior to attending OSU, she received a B.S. and M.S. in Environmental Engineering from Michigan Technological University. Her current research interests include understanding engineering identity and motivation in first-generation college students, online learning pedagogy, and service learning projects.

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Abstract

First Year Engineering Student Definitions of Systems Engineering: A Comparison Between Two Institutions

This full research paper builds on previous work investigating first-year engineering (FYE) students’ understanding of Systems Engineering and suggests methods to increase students’ knowledge of the major for increasing enrollment in the program. Systems Engineering has recently been acknowledged as a discipline in its own right by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), which began accrediting systems engineering programs in 2017-2018 (ABET, 2016). In 2021, ABET approved and accepted an updated Systems Engineering Program Criteria, cooperatively revised by INCOSE (International Council on Systems Engineering) (ABET, 2021). Systems Engineering is not available at University Y, and it is currently only offered as a minor under the Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree at University X. The primary goal of this study was to understand how first year engineering students define Systems Engineering and whether their understanding of the discipline was influenced by the availability of a Systems Engineering program at their university.

A survey was conducted of FYE students at two Universities, one with a Systems Program (University X) and one without (University Y). The students from University X, a Midwestern technical university (N=63), and University Y, a Western technical university (N=37) were also asked to define each of the engineering majors. None of the students surveyed were enrolled in a Systems Engineering program.

In the 2021-22 academic year there are 12 students enrolled in Systems Engineering at University X, a relatively new program, and less than 5 of them are female. The previous year, six students were enrolled, and at least one of them was female, a 50% increase in total enrollment. The qualitative results of this survey indicate that many students are unsure of what Systems Engineering is, and there are many answers that are very general about complex systems, including “System Engineering is engineering where you work on risk management, integration of other engineers. Basically a broad sense of most engineering branches and being able to connect them” or “understanding how systems work and how they affect each other.“ This is problematic because students might not select Systems Engineering as their major area of study due to lack of knowledge of the discipline. Previous survey results of University X’s students will be compared to the current results across the two universities. Results of this study can help emerging Systems Engineering programs understand points of confusion about the discipline and better guide the development of educational materials about their majors.

Carlson, K. L., & Oppong-Anane, A. B., & Jarvie-Eggart, M. E., & Singer, A. M. (2022, July), First Year Engineering Student Definitions of Systems Engineering: A Comparison Between Two Institutions Paper presented at 2022 First-Year Engineering Experience, East Lansing, Michigan. 10.18260/1-2--42225

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: © 2022 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