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Freshman Retention In Engineering Technology Programs At Rochester Institute Of Technology

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.208.1 - 2.208.7



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Paper Authors

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Carol Richardson

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

Session 3547

Freshman Retention in Engineering Technology Programs at Rochester Institute of Technology

Carol Richardson Rochester Institute of Technology


This paper describes how the freshman seminar movement has been implemented at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) . All seven engineering technology programs at RIT have had a required freshman seminar course in their curriculums for the past five years. Course staffing and typical session topics in these courses are described. Freshman attrition in engineering technology programs at RIT has improved from 21% in 1991 to 12% in 1994.


A decrease in freshman enrollments at RIT started in 1989 and continued to 1994 with a one year increase in 1992. The number of engineering and engineering technology degrees awarded by schools with ABET accreditation has been relatively constant since the early 1990’s in the surveys conducted by the Engineering Workforce Commission of the American Association of Engineering Societies. 1 Engineering and engineering technology programs at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) are five-year programs as they require fifteen months of cooperative work experience so engineering and engineering technology degrees didn’t start decreasing until 1993. Loss of tuition revenues in this five year period forced RIT to decrease department operating and capital equipment budgets, limit faculty and staff pay raises, and postpone physical plant improvements. An emphasis on increasing student enrollments began during these years and this is when the freshman seminar program was started.

Engineering technology programs at RIT responded in four different ways to increase enrollments. Site and distance learning certificate programs were added to the engineering technology programs which increased enrollments. Engineering technology programs which were originally transfer three year programs all became five year programs since transfer students were declining. The increase in freshman enrollments in 1995 began to offset the decrease in transfer enrollments. RIT developed a freshman seminar program in the Division of Student Affairs in 1989 to increase student retention. Departments were encouraged to participate but were not required to add the course to their curriculums. All of the departments in engineering technology at RIT with freshman students added freshman seminar courses to their programs. Freshman 1 LeBuffe, Claire Degrees in 1995 Holding steady “ ASEE Prism April 1996 page 33-35


Richardson, C. (1997, June), Freshman Retention In Engineering Technology Programs At Rochester Institute Of Technology Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6581

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