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Introducing Engineering Students To Research Through A First Year Advising Program

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Intersdisciplinary Courses and Environmental Undergraduate Research

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.964.1 - 12.964.8



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Paper Authors


Chris Swan Tufts University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Swan is an Associate Professor in, and current chair of, the Civil and Environmental Engineering department at Tufts University. His current interests are the reuse of recovered or recyclable materials and sustainable construction.

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Jesse Cooper Tufts University

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Mr. Cooper is currently a junior at Tufts University majoring in mechanical engineering.

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Amanda Stockwell Tufts University

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Ms. Stockwell is a current junior at Tufts University majoring in engineering psychology.

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

Introducing Engineering Students to Research Through A First Year Advising Program

Abstract Over the last 20 years, recycling programs have developed throughout the United States and internationally. However, once the “recycled” material is placed at the curbside or brought to the recycling center, what happens next? Developing and implementing research efforts on the reuse of waste materials was the aim of a first-year engineering students advising option called “Window on Research and Scholarship”. In this program, students are tasked to perform research and present their results in a poster presentation. Thus, the advising program not only allowed students to get advised (weekly) by a faculty member, but to also participate in research efforts of the faculty.

This paper describes the Windows on Research and Scholarship advising program used at Tufts University and, specifically, what influence this advising program ultimately had in defining the academic path taken by them. The cohort being examined entered the institution in Fall 2004. The paper presents the various research efforts of this cohort and if these efforts lead to further progress of a particular research effort and/or initiated continued student involvement in the research. In addition, the paper assesses whether this advising option, for this particular cohort, enhanced, inspired, or dampened the prospect of them doing future research, either in extending their first-year effort or exploring new research avenues. This assessment indicates that many students did not continue to pursue research efforts beyond this initial effort, mostly because of more traditional academic restraints; e.g., course work and other extracurricular activities. However, those students who did continue to pursue research have found their academic lives enriched by the experiences.

Introduction Tufts University has a number of unique advising programs for entering first-year students. One of the options is “Window on Research and Scholarship” program which links a small group of students with faculty advisor who will expose the students to his/her research.1 During the Fall 2004 semester, the lead author lead such a “windows on research and scholarship” effort that was focused on reuse options for waste materials. The objective of the program is two fold: 1. Introduce students to the processes involved in research. Specifically, it was expected that the students would be involved in hypothesis development, data collection, analysis, and synthesis. 2. Provide a regular and consistent meeting time for student advising. This paper presents an assessment of the efficacy of this advising option for a cohort of first year students entering in the Fall 2004 semester. The advising program is briefly described and specific research efforts of the group described and summarized. Subsequent research efforts that developed from these initial efforts are also described. Finally, an assessment of the students’ advising is presented including current observations by this cohort on if and how students’ academic direction were effected by the research experience.

Swan, C., & Cooper, J., & Stockwell, A. (2007, June), Introducing Engineering Students To Research Through A First Year Advising Program Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2211

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