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Introducing Engineering: A Seventeen Year Perspective

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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

Introduction to Engineering: The Present State

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.777.1 - 8.777.11



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Paper Authors

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Roger Maxwell

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John Janecek

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Jerry Kucirka

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Jamal Ghorieshi

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

Session 1653

Introducing Engineering – a Seventeen Year Perspective

J. Ghorieshi, J. Janecek, J. Kucirka, and R. Maxwell

Division of Engineering and Physics, Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766-0006


Wilkes University, in North-East Pennsylvania USA, offers bachelor degrees in Electrical, Mechanical, and Environmental engineering as well as Engineering Management and Applied and Engineering Sciences. For about three decades, our Introducing Engineering course has been required of all freshman-engineering majors. This report outlines a period – the last seventeen years – in which one of the authors has had almost continuous experience with this introductory, one-semester course. We also detail certain circumstances leading up to the latest incarnations of this course in the Fall of 2001 and the Fall of 2002.

The course evolved significantly during this time. Yet much of the material, many of the course goals, and perhaps the central theme of the course – problem solving – has remained relatively constant. What has not remained constant is the way the course was delivered. The volume of course material is quite large and varied, so much so that we cannot treat most topics in depth. In spite of this we believe that we have developed a strategy to keep the material both challenging and interesting, and yet not overwhelming to the average student. The course is described from two points of view. One is the course material and student learning, and the other is the influence of involved faculty and their reactions. It is shown how faculty interests as well as outside influences have affected the nature and success of this course.

Introduction and Background

We believe that there are two important metaphors in engineering (and so in engineering education). One is the value of mental discipline to climb over steep parts of the learning curve. The other is the use of the proper tool for the job at hand. These metaphors underlie our pedagogical philosophy that we attempt to justify in this paper. We will call it Theme A. It is, simply stated, a scheme of exposing students to a very large number of ideas, and many challenging topics, in a relatively short time. The topics are mostly of our own choosing and have evolved over time. Each student will inevitably have his or her unique profile in being attracted (or repelled) by the various topics. Students, in effect, will embrace certain ideas and reject others. We recognize and allow this – at least to a limited extent. By looking at Theme A and the history of this course, Theme B emerged as the observation that faculty often select course topics in much the same way that the students do in this course; that is, in accord Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Maxwell, R., & Janecek, J., & Kucirka, J., & Ghorieshi, J. (2003, June), Introducing Engineering: A Seventeen Year Perspective Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12055

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