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Improving Engineering Undergraduate Retention Via Research And Internships

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Conference

2006 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count

10

Page Numbers

11.734.1 - 11.734.10

DOI

10.18260/1-2--1394

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/1394

Download Count

175

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Paper Authors

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Melinda Seevers Boise State University

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Melinda Seevers is the Engineering Co-op Coordinator for the College of Engineering at Boise State University. She develops and coordinates internships for lower and upper division undergraduates. She earned a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cal Poly Pomona and has worked professionally in the aerospace and aviation industries.

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Pat Pyke Boise State University

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Patricia Pyke is the Director of Special Programs for the College of Engineering at Boise State University. She oversees projects in freshman curriculum development, retention, math support, mentoring, and women’s programs. She earned a B.S.E. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Duke University and a Master’s degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley.

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William Knowlton Boise State University

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William B. Knowlton is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Boise State University. He has co-developed five new programs and a department in Materials Science and Engineering where he is the Coordinator for Graduate Studies and holds a joint appointment. His research activities include device and simple circuit reliability physics, materials characterization, nanofabrication of materials and devices, biomaterials, and molecular electronic devices. He is actively involved in integrating teaching and research has received several teaching and research awards.

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Cheryl Schrader Boise State University

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Cheryl B. Schrader is Dean of the College of Engineering and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Boise State University. Dean Schrader has an extensive record of publications and sponsored research in the systems, control and engineering education fields. She recently received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring from the White House for an enduring, strong, and personal commitment to underrepresented engineering students and faculty.

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John Gardner Boise State University

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John F. Gardner is Chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Boise State University. He is also Director of the Hewlett Foundation funded Engineering Schools of the West Intiative at Boise State. His current research interests, in addition to engineering education, include dynamic systems and sustainable energy systems.

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

Improving Engineering Undergraduate Retention via Research and Internships

Abstract

Retention of lower division students is a continuing concern in academia. In response to these concerns, a program was initiated in the Boise State University College of Engineering to improve lower division retention via research and internships. Inclusion of lower division students in both university research and industry internships is contrary to prevailing perceptions of student capabilities. However, lower division engineering students generally possess numerous basic skills that enable them to work in an engineering environment where they can gain experience and confidence. Phase One of the Retention through Research and Internships Program was a pilot program in which seven first year engineering students were placed in research laboratories with faculty mentors within the College of Engineering during the 2004-05 academic year. At the beginning of the Fall 2005 semester, 100% of the participating students remained in the program. In addition, interviews of the students revealed that many believed that the research laboratory experience and environment increased their confidence and motivation, and was pivotal in their decision to remain in engineering. As a result of the successful Phase One pilot program, a Phase Two program has been initiated, in which first and second year engineering students are being placed in industry internships during the academic year 2005-06.

Introduction

Student retention is an issue among university academic programs nationwide; however, in a field already plagued with declining enrollment, retaining engineering students is of particular importance. Boise State University students that did not return for their second year were interviewed by the Office of Institutional Assessment. Financial difficulties were given as the most common reason for not returning the following semester. Of those surveyed, 21% stated finances were the major factor, and 16% left primarily due to job responsibilities. Other reasons included lack of motivation and feeling alone and isolated.1 As one of the nine western engineering colleges engaging in the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Engineering Schools of the West Initiative, the Boise State University College of Engineering received a five- year grant to support recruitment and retention programs. To address the concerns of students leaving due to financial difficulties and lack of engagement, a pilot program (Phase One) was launched in 2004 funded by this grant.

Internships, either in research or industry, allow students to connect theory to practice through work-based, experiential learning. Participation in an internship allows students to receive mentoring from role models working in the engineering research lab or industry, and from fellow interns in an organization. Prior research has shown that students engaged in undergraduate research perceived a positive impact on their cognitive and personal skills, and that students were more likely to pursue graduate degrees.2 Additionally, significant positive effects from student participation in cooperative education upon academic performance and graduate earnings have been statistically reported.3 Based on this data, pilot programs were initiated to increase retention

Seevers, M., & Pyke, P., & Knowlton, W., & Schrader, C., & Gardner, J. (2006, June), Improving Engineering Undergraduate Retention Via Research And Internships Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1394

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: © 2006 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