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Freshman Electrical Engineering Course Addressing Retention And Career Choice

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Introduction to Engineering Courses

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.577.1 - 7.577.6



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Paper Authors

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Steven Reyer

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Glenn T. Wrate Northern Michigan University

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John Wheeldon

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Owe Petersen

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

Main Menu Session 2253

Freshman Electrical Engineering Course Addressing Retention and Career Choice

Steven Reyer, Glenn Wrate, John Wheeldon, Owe Petersen Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Milwaukee School of Engineering


The Electrical Engineering Program at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) has implemented a new introductory electrical engineering (EE) course in the first quarter of the freshman year. Student retention is the primary motivation, and the special manner in which the course is team-taught helps to ensure the desired student satisfaction. Initial feedback has shown that the students are excited to experience the breadth and flexibility of EE by understanding how familiar, everyday electronic items work1. A pass/fail type grading system lessens student first-term stress, while encouraging participation and no-risk experimentation.

Motivation for the Development of the Course2

At the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), engineering freshmen have traditionally been required to take a general engineering course to acquaint them with the various branches of the field, and to excite them about the profession. However, for the EE freshmen, it has become clear that the course’s minimal exposure to EE did little to reinforce their career choice. For this reason, the EE faculty set out to develop an EE-specific freshman course, with the primary goal being to improve retention3. In support of this goal, several criteria were developed:

• Introduce EE with the intent of career choice affirmation4. A possible outcome is that the student may decide to change programs. However, it was believed that the majority of students would find their decision to be the correct one, and have added enthusiasm for the program. • Acquaint the students with key EE faculty. No teaching assistants are used at MSOE, so the course would be faculty team-taught, with the goal of having EE advisors among this group. • Provide a sense of family within the EE program. The new students would know who the other EE freshmen are, making them feel more welcome, comfortable, and part of a team during their first quarter on campus. • Reduce first-quarter stress. The pass/fail type grading system would reduce the pressure of grades while encouraging the budding engineers to experiment, with little chance of criticism or fear of failure. That is, show them that electrical engineering is fun!

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Reyer, S., & Wrate, G. T., & Wheeldon, J., & Petersen, O. (2002, June), Freshman Electrical Engineering Course Addressing Retention And Career Choice Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10428

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