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Introducing First Year Students To Engineering, Economics, And Social Responsibility: Ada Compliance As A First Project

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

State of the Art in Freshman Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.807.1 - 9.807.10



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Paper Authors

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Stoian Petrescu

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Ronald Ziemian

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Richard Zaccone

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Richard Kozick

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James Baish

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Margot Vigeant

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Daniel Cavanagh

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

Session 1153

Introducing first-year students to engineering, economics, and social responsibility: ADA compliance as a first project

Margot A.S. Vigeant, James W. Baish, Daniel Cavanagh, Richard J. Kozick, Stoian Petrescu, Richard Zaccone, Ronald D. Ziemian

All: Bucknell University College of Engineering. Departments: Chemical Engineering/ Mechanical Engineering/ Biomedical Engineering/ Electrical Engineering/ Mechanical Engineering/ Computer Science and Engineering/ Civil and Environmental Engineering


Exploring Engineering is a first semester required course for all 200 first-year engineering students at Bucknell University. Last year, the course was modified into a format consisting of four project-driven units, with the middle two being student-elected topical seminars of approximately 25 students, and the first and last being taught to the entire class as a large lecture. This paper describes the reworking of the first unit of the course to include a design project focused on making the university more accessible for persons using wheelchairs. The main learning objectives for this project were to have students 1) Use the engineering design process 2) Practice teamwork skills 3) Practice oral and written communication skills 4) Apply math skills 5) Relate economic and other social considerations to engineering design 6) Produce a design for a real customer and finally 7) Develop a greater sensitivity to transportation issues faced by wheelchair users. The Accessibility Project replaced a project in which students designed a park, which had been satisfactorily achieving goals 1-5 for several years. However, it was felt that student and faculty interest could be heightened by altering the project to one that would perform a useful service to the university community.

In the Accessibility Project, teams of three students were assigned two points on campus, at least one of which was known to be currently inaccessible to wheelchair. Students then generated at least four possible alternative accessible routes between those points, and suggested and priced all improvements required to make those routes accessible. Students were given background on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which specifies the characteristics of “accessible” paths, access to various measuring tools, and wheelchairs. At the end of the project, students presented their work in both oral and written form to the Bucknell ADA Committee, which will consider their suggestions for implementation on campus. According to student evaluations, the project was successful in achieving all of its goals, particularly in heightening student sensitivity to issues facing wheelchair users, scoring 4.7 on a Lickert 5-point scale.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Petrescu, S., & Ziemian, R., & Zaccone, R., & Kozick, R., & Baish, J., & Vigeant, M., & Cavanagh, D. (2004, June), Introducing First Year Students To Engineering, Economics, And Social Responsibility: Ada Compliance As A First Project Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13663

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2004 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015