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Integrating A First Year Engineering Program With A Living Learning Community

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Learning as a Community

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.749.1 - 14.749.17



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Paper Authors


Timothy Hinds Michigan State University

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TIMOTHY J. HINDS is an Academic Specialist in the Michigan State University College of Engineering Undergraduate Studies and Department of Mechanical Engineering. He is the lead instructor for the Cornerstone Engineering / Spartan Engineering program teaching courses in engineering design and modeling. He has also taught courses in machine design, manufacturing processes, mechanics, computational tools and international product design as well as graduate-level courses in engineering innovation and technology management. He has over 25 years of combined academic and industrial management experience. He received his BSME and MSME degrees from Michigan Technological University.

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Thomas Wolff Michigan State University

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THOMAS F. WOLFF is Associate Professor of Civil Engineering and Associate Dean of Engineering for Undergraduate Studies at Michigan State University. From 1970 to 1985, he was a geotechnical engineer with the St. Louis District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Since 1985, on the faculty of MSU, he has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in geotechnical engineering and reliability analysis. His research and consulting has focused on the design and evaluation of dams, levees and hydraulic structures, and he has been involved in several studies related to the failure of New Orleans levees in hurricane Katrina. As Associate Dean, he oversees curriculum, advising, career planning, study abroad, early engineering and other related initiatives.

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Neeraj Buch Michigan State University


Amanda Idema Michigan State University

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AMANDA G. IDEMA is the Director of Academic Advising for the College of Engineering at Michigan State University. She oversees the academic advising of 2500 undergraduate engineering students in 10 different majors, working with a staff of six professional advisers and two graduate student advisers. Amanda has been at MSU since 1997 and has experience in the Department of Residence Life, the Law College and most recently as an academic adviser in the College of Education. She is a PhD candidate in the Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education program at MSU, focusing her research on women's colleges that have had to pursue coeducation in order to survive.

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Cynthia Helman Michigan State University

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CYNTHIA K. HELMAN is the Coordinator of Living & Learning Programs at Michigan State University. In that role, she works with academic units, housing and residence life to create and sustain living-learning programs. She has worked in residence life in various capacities for over 25 years. Cindy is also an adjunct assistant professor in the higher education program at Michigan State and teaches courses in student affairs administration and higher education. She has been involved with several research projects related to student outcomes through participation in living-learning programs and faculty involvement in living-learning programs.

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

Integrating a First-Year Engineering Program and a Living-Learning Community Introduction

Over the past three years, the College of Engineering at Michigan State University (MSU) has been planning and developing an integrated combination of a first-year engineering program and a residential living-learning program. The synergy of the two is intended to build community and develop broader skills beyond those in a more traditional first-year engineering program.

The academic portion of this integrated program, Cornerstone Experience / Spartan Engineering, consists of two introductory courses. The first, EGR 100, Introduction to Engineering Design, provides a set of broad, team-based, hands-on design experiences and an introduction to topics common across all engineering disciplines. This course is required of all incoming engineering majors. The second course, EGR 102, Introduction to Engineering Modeling, introduces problem solving and mathematical modeling of engineering problems and systems. It is required of all majors except computer science and computer engineering. Much of the Cornerstone Experience / Spartan Engineering program has been developed from common themes contained within first-year courses previously offered by the six individual engineering departments and nine engineering degree programs.

For over 10 years, the MSU College of Engineering has been the lead college in an engineering and science residential program where students reside in a single residence hall. In addition to the inherent social and academic advantages, these students are also afforded the opportunity to enroll in reserved class sections, attend engineering seminars held in the residence hall, and obtain free tutoring in math and science courses.

Our new program, Residential Experience / Spartan Engineering, will transition that small-scale science and engineering residential program of approximately 150 students to a large-scale living-learning community program with a potential to accommodate more than 1000 undergraduate engineering students. It will also integrate with the Cornerstone Experience / Spartan Engineering program into a single facility.

Starting Fall semester 2009, approximately 400 of the 650 incoming freshman engineering students will be housed in a single residence hall containing the Cornerstone Experience / Spartan Engineering lecture auditorium, newly-constructed computer and project labs, and other program facilities. Our intent is to develop a living and learning environment that will assist students in thinking analytically and to succeed in the College of Engineering. This community is intended to bring another dimension to our common first-year curriculum and will further enhance student knowledge of the engineering profession, cultivate their problem solving skills, connect them with campus and community resources, and enhance their communication skills. Because students will live in the same residence hall community, it is hoped that an academically supportive peer group will enhance the overall experience.

Such integration does not come easily. A coordinated plan has been developed to join the Cornerstone Experience and the Residential Experience to address the challenges encountered by

Hinds, T., & Wolff, T., & Buch, N., & Idema, A., & Helman, C. (2009, June), Integrating A First Year Engineering Program With A Living Learning Community Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5622

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