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Improving Retention Of Undergraduate Students In Engineering Through Freshman Courses

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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

Trends in Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.643.1 - 7.643.10



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Paper Authors

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Ruben Rojas-Oviedo

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Session 1566

Improving Retention of Undergraduate Students in Engineering through Freshman Courses

Dr. Ruben Rojas-Oviedo and Dr. X. Cathy Qian Mechanical Engineering Department Alabama A&M University, Huntsville, AL 35762 Phone: (256) 851-5890. E-Mail:;


Demand for competent engineers has increased significantly in recent years and as the local availability decreases, corporations have increased efforts to import engineering graduates from abroad. Achieving a significant increase in the number of U.S. graduates in science, mathematics and engineering is a complex problem that requires the participation of many parties.

This paper addresses the steps taken by the Mechanical Engineering Department at Alabama A&M University to improve retention rates of engineering freshman through two introductory courses in mechanical engineering. The focus of one course is the facilitation of the development of new engineering competencies. The authors have adapted/developed materials and examples from several sources for the introductory freshman course in Mechanical Engineering. Goals for the course include; the introduction to: The Product Realization Process, professional competencies, professional ethics and the development of a basic engineering project. The project includes engineering analysis, market outlook, basic production techniques, economic assessment, planning, design, manufacturing, testing and product evaluation. The focus of the other course is to further develop required skills in mathematics and engineering science and learning the use of computer programming for the solution of engineering problems. The approach taken in both courses is project/goal oriented, learning topics are “discovered” as part of the project development. In one course, hands-on experimentation is emphasized while in the other analysis and numerical simulation are promoted. The experience of the past few years indicates that retention has improved when students take one of these courses during their first semester at the university.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright Ó 2002, American society for Engineering Education Main Menu

Rojas-Oviedo, R. (2002, June), Improving Retention Of Undergraduate Students In Engineering Through Freshman Courses Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10459

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