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Freshman Boxing Lessons Designed To "Tko" Academic Failure

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.650.1 - 11.650.8



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Paper Authors


Beverly Withiam University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

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Interim Director and Associate Professor of Civil Engineering Technology at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. B.S. Civil Engineering Technology from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, M.S. Civil Engineering from University of Pittsburgh. Registered professional engineer. Interests include water resources and environmental engineering. Worked as power engineer for Allegheny Power Service Corporation and a facilities engineer for Abex Corporation. Member of ASEE, ASCE, AWWA, WEF, and NSPE.

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Susan Dawkins University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

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Assistant Director Academic Support Center and Instructor, English Composition and First Year Seminar at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. B.A. and M.A. from West Virginia University in English. Interests include college writing, first year experience and peer tutoring administration. Member of College Reading and Learning Association, National Academic Advising Association and National Association for Developmental Education.

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Robert Martinazzi University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

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Professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. B.S. Aerospace Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, M.S. Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. Registered professional engineer. Interests include engineering economics, management and leadership development. Worked as project engineer for Armstrong World Industries, does engineering management and leadership consulting work and presents seminars on effectiveness and leadership at both the individual and corporate levels. Colonel (Ret) in United States Marine Corps Reserves.

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


No one would argue with the fact incoming freshmen have a great deal to learn in a multitude of areas if they are to succeed in their undergraduate education. In a sense they are “amateurs” in the whole new “ring” of college life.

The high school “training” received will require a significant intensification as the freshmen become competent and mature professionals in their chosen discipline. An entirely new set of “sparring” skills must be developed and practiced if the freshmen are to grow and mature physically, emotionally, and academically over the next four years.

The purpose of this paper focuses on a detailed explanation of the “coaching” new freshmen receive so they can succeed academically during their critical first year in a very demanding technical degree program. The analogy of “boxing” works well since “amateur” freshmen must become “champion” professional seniors in their chosen field.

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown (UPJ) instituted a major initiative to enhance the probability of success for all incoming freshmen. The new mandatory one credit course was titled “University Scholarship”. Designed to give freshmen basic “boxing” skills to succeed academically, the section of the course offered to Engineering Technology freshmen provides a “one – two punch” through the collaborative efforts of the Engineering Technology Division and UPJ’s Academic Support Center.

The “first punch” comes from “boxing” lessons taught by the Academic Support Center and included a variety of “sparring” skills applicable to all college freshmen. These include topics such as academic integrity, personal management skills, testing and test anxiety, diversity, registration process, problem solving and decision making.

The “second punch” comes from “boxing” lessons taught by the Engineering Technology faculty. Their contribution centers on giving freshmen an engineering specific perspective on the profession they will enter upon graduation. “Sparring” skills the faculty teach include subjects such as an overview of the engineering profession, success strategies, personal growth and development, student organizations, the difference between engineering technology and engineering, and employment opportunities.


Many incoming college freshmen believe that they have developed the requisite skills in high school to guarantee success in college. However, early in the first semester their level of confidence often begins to decline especially after they encounter their first series of quizzes and/or examinations. The curricular challenge may be more than expected and frequently the learning skills acquired in high school will not allow the student to realize his/her full potential. The student may find that the challenge of college is more than expected because they have not

Withiam, B., & Dawkins, S., & Martinazzi, R. (2006, June), Freshman Boxing Lessons Designed To "Tko" Academic Failure Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--120

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