Asee peer logo

Freshman Retention In An Engineering And Technology Department

Download Paper |


2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Exploring Retention

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.639.1 - 14.639.10



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Brian DeJong Central Michigan University

visit author page

Brian P. DeJong is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering in the Engineering and Technology Department at Central Michigan University. He received a M.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University with research in robotics. His current research is in robots that interact with humans, such as teleoperated robots, haptics, lower-limb exercise robots, and sound-locating mobile robots.

visit author page


Kumar Yelamarthi Central Michigan University

visit author page

Kumar Yelamarthi received his Ph.D. and M.S degree from Wright State University in 2008 and 2004, and B.E. from University of Madras, India in 2000. His research interest is in the areas of Very Large Scale Integrated Circuits, Field Programmable Gate Arrays, Computer Aided Design tool development, digital design automation, autonomous adaptive systems, applied electronics, Micro Electronic and Mechanical Systems, and engineering education. He has served as a technical reviewer for several IEEE/ASME/ASEE international conferences and journals, and has written over 40 publications in both technical and educational fields. He is an elected member of Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society.

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

Freshman Retention in an Engineering and Technology Department


This paper presents the results of an in-depth study of one-year retention rates for freshman engineering students in the Engineering & Technology (ET) department at Central Michi- gan University. The ET department is a distinct collaboration of engineering, engineering technology, and technology programs, offering eight majors including the newly added me- chanical and electrical engineering. The freshman engineering course consistently draws high enrollment, but the retention of these students to the second-year engineering courses is an unusually low 26%. Furthermore, the data shows that these unretained students are not choosing the (less-math-intensive) engineering technology or technology programs, as antic- ipated. This paper discusses these findings, as well as retention rates versus math level, course grade, and cumulative GPA, and the majors declared by the unretained students. This analysis has shown avenues for improving the freshman engineering course.


The Engineering & Technology (ET) department at Central Michigan University (CMU) is a unique collaboration of engineering, engineering technology, and technology programs. The department offers 8 academic programs, including Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Manufacturing Engineering Technology, and Industrial Technology Management. Thus, the department attracts a wide rage of technology-interested students with various math and science backgrounds. While the tech- nology programs are well established, the engineering program is just beginning: it graduated its first engineering students in 2008. Within the engineering program, the introductory course (EGR120: Introduction to Engi- neering) has consistently drawn a relatively high enrollment of 120 students per year. This year it is seeing an increase to 150 students, and growth is expected as the program achieves ABET accreditation, gains popularity, and becomes well established. However, the current retention rate of these students is unsatisfactory. The current retention rate of freshman students to their second year in engineering is a dismal 26%. The majority of the higher-level engineering classes have 10 to 20 students — a respectable number for a new program, except for the high freshman enrollment. The overall department is not much better: only 31% of the freshman engineering students stay within the ET department, in one program or another. That is, the majority of unretained students are not transferring to the (less-math-intensive) engineering technology or technology programs, as one would expect or hope. These initial numbers have prompted a study of the demographics of the freshman engi- neering students (math level, science level, GPA, subsequent major, etc.), corresponding


DeJong, B., & Yelamarthi, K. (2009, June), Freshman Retention In An Engineering And Technology Department Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5477

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: © 2009 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