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Implementation and Effects of a Bridge Program to Increase Student Learning and Retention in Engineering Programs

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

First-Year Programs Division Technical Session 7: The Transition from High School to College

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.900.1 - 26.900.12



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Paper Authors


Tony Vercellino P.E. Youngstown State University

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Dr. Vercellino attended Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and received a B.S. in Civil Engineering. While working on his B.S., he worked as an operator for an industrial wastewater plant over the course of 4 years. After graduating, he worked 2.5 years as a consulting engineer designing municipal water distribution and wastewater collection/treatment systems. Tony attended graduate school at Texas Tech University, receiving both a M.S. (in 2010) and PhD. (in 2012) in Civil Engineering. His dissertation research examined the use of membrane aerated bio-reactors to treat space-based wastewater, and the evaluation of organo-selenium compounds as inhibition agents against biofouling in membrane filtration systems. Additionally, Tony completed a post-doc with Prof. Audra Morse in the Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Texas Tech University, expanding his knowledge of biofouling in membrane filtration systems. Tony currently works as an Assistant Professor at Youngstown State University in the Department of Civil, Environmental & Chemical Engineering.

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Dylan Christenson Texas Tech University

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B.A. Liberal Studies and M.A. Education from Vanguard University of Southern California. M.S. Civil Engineering Texas Tech University. Currently pursuing a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering with focus on the biological treatment of waste water for re-use applications. I am passionate about both engineering and education. I am specifically interested in student motivation, formative assessment, service learning, and the influence of the affective domain.

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Audra N. Morse Texas Tech University

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Dr. Audra Morse, P.E., is the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies in the Whitacre College of Engineering and a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Texas Tech University. She leads the Engineering Opportunities Center which provides retention, placement and academic support services to WCOE students. Her professional experience is focused on water and wastewater treatment, specifically water reclamation systems, membrane filtration and the fate of personal products in treatment systems.

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Implementation and Effects of a Bridge Program to Increase Student Learning and Retention in Engineering ProgramsAn engineering bridge program was implemented and utilized to assist pre-engineering students byoffering an optional one week course to strengthen their math and problem solving skills, while alsoproviding mentoring and academic support opportunities to the students throughout the academicyear following the course. The program has been in effect for over six years, and has had anapproximate total enrollment of over 700 students during that time. Enrollment in the bridge programis offered to incoming students that have scored in the range of four to seven on the math placementexam (MPE), and the course is specifically designed to strengthen the student’s understanding oftrigonometry and related problem solving. The goal of the research is to determine whether thebridge program has an immediate effect on improving grades in math and engineering classes, and todetermine whether the program has a long-term effect on the students by retaining them within theengineering program. The results of the research, based as a comparison between students that didand did not enroll in the bridge program, showed that the students enrolled in the bridge programbrought their performance levels up to approximately the same level as the entire engineering collegeitself, indicating that the program was successful in increasing performance of the target students.Additionally the program showed that students enrolled in the bridge program stayed within anengineering major after their first year at approximately the same rate as the entire engineeringcollege.

Vercellino, T., & Christenson, D., & Morse, A. N. (2015, June), Implementation and Effects of a Bridge Program to Increase Student Learning and Retention in Engineering Programs Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24237

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