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Introducing Students To Engineering Using A Case Study Approach

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.346.1 - 4.346.8

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Paper Authors

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Ann M. Bisantz

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Amjad Aref

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Alexander N. Cartwright

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

Session 2353

Introducing Students to Engineering Using a Case Study Approach

Ann M. Bisantz, Alexander N. Cartwright, and Amjad Aref School of Engineering and Applied Sciences State University of New York at Buffalo

I. Introduction

Improving student retention in engineering programs is an on-going and important goal. Some reasons given for poor retention of engineering freshman are lack of contact with engineering faculty during freshman courses, and a lack of understanding on the part of students of what they will do as engineers when they graduate3. Case studies are one method that has been suggested as a means to enhance learning, because, for instance, they illustrate the real life complexities of course content and provide a realistic setting to apply course material1,2,4. In engineering, cases have been suggested as an illustration of the multi-disciplinary nature of engineering projects1. For these reasons, a case study presentation involving a multi-disciplinary group of engineers and engineering faculty may have a positive impact on freshman engineering student retention.

To this end, a case study was developed to give students an idea of what engineers’ tasks would be in the design of a large, complex system that is currently under development- the Intelligent Transportation System. The case was designed to be used near the beginning of a freshman level introductory engineering course. The case had the following objectives:

1. To introduce new engineering students to the discipline of engineering by illustrating the roles of various types of engineering in a large, current engineering project that has the potential to greatly impact aspects of society - the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS).

2. To introduce these students to the idea that engineering projects are multi-disciplinary in nature.

3. To introduce the students to a fundamental way of engineering thinking – the decomposition of problems and systems into smaller, more manageable parts.

4. To introduce the concepts of system reliability and redundancy.

5. To expose freshman students to engineering faculty.

Bisantz, A. M., & Aref, A., & Cartwright, A. N. (1999, June), Introducing Students To Engineering Using A Case Study Approach Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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