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Multi Pronged Retention Strategy Successful In Retaining Engineering Technology Students

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.733.1 - 6.733.6

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James Wood

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Elaine L. Craft

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Session 1149

Multi-Pronged Retention Strategy Successful In Retaining Engineering Technology Students

James C. Wood, Elaine L. Craft Tri-County Technical College/SC Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence


A retention strategy that incorporates a new integrated, problem-based curriculum, collaborative, student-centered teaching methodologies, faculty and student teams, and the involvement of industry partners is demonstrating success in retaining students in engineering technology programs in South Carolina.

The South Carolina Advanced Technological Education (SC ATE) Center of Excellence is focused on increasing the quality, quantity, and diversity of engineering technology graduates. The SC ATE Center has developed two curriculum components for beginning engineering technology students that integrate the core disciplines for engineering technicians -- mathematics, physics, communications and technology. SC ATE industry-based problems are providing a mechanism for integrating these subjects and an important new context for learning. SC ATE classrooms model the workplace from the physical set up of the classrooms to the use of student teams to solve problem scenarios. By modeling the classroom and instructional approach after the workplace, students are seeing the connections between subjects traditionally taught in isolation and between their study and engineering technology careers.

The SC ATE curriculum is being taught in seven South Carolina technical colleges and one high school career center. Engineering technology retention rates have increased 50-100 percent. In addition, industry has responded to the implementation of the SC ATE curriculum by providing more and better scholarships and meaningful work experiences for engineering technology students through the SC ATE Scholars initiative. Through the ATE Scholars partnerships, industries and colleges work together to recruit and select students as ATE Scholars. The financial support of local industries (tuition, books and paid work experience) and relevant real- world industry exposure is providing additional motivation and incentive for students to complete their program of study.

In this session, SC ATE retention strategies and results will be shared.

I. Introduction

Adopting a multi-pronged approach to retaining students in two-year engineering technology programs until graduation has been a successful strategy for the South Carolina Technical College System. A statewide systemic reform initiative, created and implemented through the SC

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Wood, J., & Craft, E. L. (2001, June), Multi Pronged Retention Strategy Successful In Retaining Engineering Technology Students Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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