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Interdisciplinary Approach To First Year Engineering Curricula

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Curriculum Innovation & Assessment

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.815.1 - 10.815.13



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Paper Authors

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Jo Howze

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Jefferey Froyd

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Kristi Shryock

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Arun Srinivasa

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

Interdisciplinary Approach to First-Year Engineering Curricula

Jo Howze, Jeffrey Froyd, Kristi J. Shryock, Arun R. Srinivasa, Rita Caso Texas A&M University, College Station, TX


With support from the STEM Talent Expansion Program (STEP) of the National Science Foundation, the Texas A&M University Engineering Program (TAMU) is drawing upon existing results to construct an improved learning experience for all engineering majors. Drawing from integrated curricula/learning community initiatives, physics, engineering, and mathematics faculty members are working together to help students more closely link concepts from the three subject areas. Faculty members have constructed specifications that design projects must follow to help students build tighter connections among the three subjects. A comprehensive assessment and evaluation plan has also been designed and implemented. This paper will describe the integration mechanisms, project specifications, and systems to address study skills, as well as data that has been collected and analyzed to date. Future assessment plans and strategies for expanding the program for more students and extending it to two additional first- year engineering tracks will also be described.


First-year engineering curricula have been identified as significant opportunities to improve four- year engineering curricula, and many institutions have addressed the opportunity in different ways. At Texas A&M University (TAMU), at least four challenges were identified with respect to first-year curricula in the Dwight Look College of Engineering. These challenges are not unique to TAMU and avenues for addressing these challenges might be applicable to other institutions.

Challenge 1. Despite the innovations introduced during TAMU’s participation in the Foundation Coalition [1], retention of engineering students after one year still requires significant improvement [2-6].

Challenge 2. Engineering students require clearer understanding of the value and relevance of science and mathematics. Statements made by engineering students at University of California Berkeley are typical of statements by engineering students about mathematics and science courses.

“Well, mathematics is, basically…abstract…unless you apply it to something you don’t have a physical foundation… It’s more conceptual, you have to be able to manipulate symbols…You got to get over the fact that it may seem pointless, and just do it. That’s probably one of the hardest things in math, that there’s no reward, there’s no tangible physical thing that you have. You didn’t find out how far this ball is going to fly, or how long it will take for this thing to cool down. You have a number, and you can't do anything with this number.” and

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Howze, J., & Froyd, J., & Shryock, K., & Srinivasa, A. (2005, June), Interdisciplinary Approach To First Year Engineering Curricula Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15590

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