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Integrating Graphics In A First Year Engineering Program

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Assessment of Graphics Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.738.1 - 8.738.6



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Paper Authors

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Sheryl Sorby

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

Session 1338

Integrating Graphics in a First-Year Engineering Program

Sheryl A. Sorby Engineering Fundamentals Michigan Technological University Houghton, Michigan


In the fall of 2000, Michigan Tech implemented a common first-year engineering program. Prior to the implementation of this program, students enrolled in courses during their first-year depend- ing on their declared major. Students with no declared engineering major enrolled in a variety of courses that would likely “count” towards most engineering degrees. Before the switch, graphics courses were required for students in mechanical, civil, environmental, biomedical, mining, and materials engineering. Students in electrical, chemical, geological, and computer engineering had no graphics requirement prior to 2000. In developing the two core first-year engineering courses, compromises on all sides were required. The graphics content for some programs was necessarily reduced while the content for others increased significantly. Another feature of the new program was that the graphics content was integrated throughout the first-year courses instead of existing as a stand-alone topic in the curriculum. This paper will discuss the graphics content in the first- year engineering courses at Michigan Tech and will present assessment results that compare graphics performance achieved with that achieved prior to the adoption of the first-year engineer- ing program.


In recent years, several universities have adopted common first-year engineering programs. There are many advantages inherent to a common first year of engineering studies. Students are able to spend a year making up their minds about which engineering discipline they wish to pursue, before committing to a specific program. Since many 18-year olds do not typically understand the differences between engineering disciplines, and since many of our programs are relatively “unknown” (such as materials, geological, etc.), enabling students to spend a year exploring their options before making a choice will likely mean that they are more satisfied with the major they eventually choose. Another advantage to common first-year programs is that they facilitate engagement between engineering faculty and freshman students in a meaningful way. Faculty involvement is seen as a key to student retention and engineering programs have often been criti- cized for the contact that first-year students have with faculty in the disciplines. Finally, first-year programs enable universities to manage enrollments in some programs more effectively. If neces- Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Sorby, S. (2003, June), Integrating Graphics In A First Year Engineering Program Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11624

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