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Lessons Learned from an ECE Recruiting and Retention Program that Increased Undergraduate Enrollment Over 60% in Four Years

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Recruitment, Retention and First-year Programs in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.862.1 - 23.862.17



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Paper Authors


Chad Eric Davis P.E. University of Oklahoma

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Chad Davis received the B.S. in Mechanical Engineering (1994), the M.S. in Electrical Engineering (2000), and the Ph.D. in Engineering (2007) from the University of Oklahoma.
Since 2008, he has been a member of the ECE faculty at the University of Oklahoma. Prior to joining the OU-ECE faculty he worked in industry at Uponor, McElroy Manufacturing, Lucent, Celestica, and Boeing. His work experience ranges from electromechanical system design to automation of manufacturing and test processes. His research at OU involves GPS Ground Based Augmentation Systems utilizing feedback control. Dr. Davis holds a dual discipline (electrical & mechanical) professional engineering license in the state of Oklahoma.

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James J. Sluss Jr. University of Oklahoma

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James J. Sluss, Jr. is the Morris R. Pitman Professor and Director of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Oklahoma. He received the B.S in Physics in 1984 from Marshall University, and the M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 1986 and 1989, respectively, from the University of Virginia. His current research interests are in the areas of three-dimensional displays, optical communications, photonics, and intelligent transportation systems. He has been awarded 14 U.S. patents, has authored/co-authored over 100 journal and conference publications, and has been principal/co-principal investigator on over $16 million in sponsored research grants and contracts.

He is a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), IEEE Education Society, and the IEEE Communications Society. He is a Member of the Optical Society of America (OSA), International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), and American Society of Engineering Educators (ASEE). He presently serves as Secretary of the IEEE Education Society and is a member of the Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference Steering Committee.

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Lessons Learned from an ECE Recruiting and Retention Program that Increased Undergraduate Enrollment 60% in Four YearsAbstract:This paper builds upon past works that were published in the ASEE Conferenceproceedings in 2011 and 2012. In response to a severe decline in undergraduateenrollment from 2004 to 2008 a corrective action program was implemented in our ECEdepartment. During this time our enrollment numbers dropped by 35% (386 in 2004 to250 in 2008). The goal of our corrective action program was to return our enrollment to atarget number of 350 students and produce structures and processes to help sustain ourenrollment numbers in the future. In the fall of 2012, all program goals were met as ourenrollment numbers increased to 400 students and several sustainment measures were putin place. This paper focuses on the lessons that were learned during these four yearswhere we experienced a 60% increase in enrollment with a very small financialinvestment.Early in the process student surveys were used to gain insight into what inspired studentsto select ECE as a major. This data was used to shape the focus of our program and tocreate a structure that our students would be interested in participating. We later learnedthat student participation in the program was a necessity for it to be effective andsustained. Initial survey responses from several students who are now leaders in ourrecruiting and retention programs will be shared along with their thoughts on howparticipating in the program benefited them. Analyses of the recruiting methodology weused and which practices are the most cost effective are also shared in this paper. Time isconsidered an integral factor in the cost effective metric. Early on in the program it wasapparent that many activities that took an enormous amount of time were ineffective anddetracted from activities that are effective. The goal of this paper is to share ourexperiences to provide guidance for other engineering departments that are trying toreverse declining enrollments.

Davis, C. E., & Sluss, J. J. (2013, June), Lessons Learned from an ECE Recruiting and Retention Program that Increased Undergraduate Enrollment Over 60% in Four Years Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19876

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