Asee peer logo

Novel Sophomore Assessment Modeled after the F.E. Exam

Download Paper |


2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Assessment

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Breigh Nonte Roszelle University of Denver

visit author page

Dr. Breigh Roszelle completed her undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at Colorado State University in 2006. She then continued in academia, completing her Masters and PhD in Bioengineering at The Pennsylvania State University. At Penn State Breigh worked in the Artificial Heart Lab, her research focused on studying the biofluid mechanics associated with the development of a pediatric ventricular assist device. After completing her PhD in 2010, Breigh came to Arizona State University to work as a post doc in the Image Processing Applications Lab. In 2013 she became a Teaching Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at the University of Denver. Here Breigh teaches courses in the fields of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, biofluids, and introduction to engineering. Her educational research interests include first-year engineering experiences, engineering assessment, and active learning pedagogy.

visit author page


Matt Gordon P.E. University of Denver

visit author page

Dr. Matt Gordon is Professor and Chair of the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. His research areas include numerical and experimental plasma physics, chemical and physical vapor deposition, electronic packaging, and bio-medical engineering. He has supervised to completion 26 MSME students and 5 PhD students. Publications include 1 book chapter, 32 journal publications, 47 refereed conference proceedings, 29 non-refereed publications, and 27 non-refereed presentations. He is responsible for funds as PI or Co-PI from 52 separate proposals totaling almost $6,500,000. Courses taught include undergraduate finite elements, thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, heat transfer, and engineering economics and ethics, and graduate finite elements, numerical methods, thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, plasma fundamentals and gas dynamics.

visit author page


Bradley S. Davidson University of Denver

visit author page

Dr. Bradley Davidson is an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering and director of the Human Dynamics Laboratory at the University of Denver and Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. He holds a BS in civil engineering from Tennessee Tech, an MS in engineering mechanics from Virginia Tech, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from the Virginia Tech–Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences. His research focuses on understanding and characterizing human movement across healthy and pathologic populations through in vivo experimental measurement and musculoskeletal modeling. Applications focus on fall prevention, spine stability, rehabilitation after total joint surgery, and muscle coordination and proprioception in the lumbo-pelvic region.

visit author page


Peter J. Laz University of Denver

visit author page

Peter Laz is a Professor in Mechanical and Materials Engineering at the University of Denver. His research is in the area of probabilistic analysis related to orthopedic implants and structural components. He has been an investigator on industrial, federal (NSF, NIH) and foundation grants and written 35 journal papers and 100+ conference publications. He received his Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Duke University and his MS and PhD degrees in mechanical engineering from Purdue University. He was a Fulbright scholar in Germany and also worked at Southwest Research Institute before joining the faculty at DU in 2001.

visit author page

Download Paper |


During the last quarter of the sophomore year, all students in the Departments of Mechanical and Materials Engineering (MME) and Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at the XXX take an assessment exam. The purpose of this exam is to measure the knowledge of these students in the fields of basic math and science, as well as sophomore year engineering courses, such as digital design, statics, circuits, and mechanics of materials.

The students take the exam as part of a zero-credit course and the exam is given in two parts on separate days. The exam problems are similar to Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE) problems and students are only allowed to use the official FE Reference Handbook during the test. To pass the course students must score a combined average of 50% or better on both exams. If a student fails to reach this average on the exams, they are required to retake the course and obtain a passing score before they graduate. On average around 95% of students pass on the first attempt.

The results of the exam are used in the internal assessment process of both the MME and ECE Departments. The results of the exam allow faculty to observe how well the students understand the fundamental building blocks that they will later use in more complex engineering problems during their upperclassman years. The exam also provides a checkpoint to see how well they are prepared when taking the FE during their last year of study. And lastly, data from the exam allow for analysis of individual subjects and questions, allowing for exploration of how well students understand each subject tested, as well as individual topics.

Overall our faculty has found the sophomore exam to be a helpful tool in assessing both the knowledge of our students, as well as the effectiveness of some of our early engineering courses. The MME department also requires that all students take the FE exam to graduate, giving a set of assessment data at two different time points in their career as a student.

Roszelle, B. N., & Gordon, M., & Davidson, B. S., & Laz, P. J. (2016, June), Novel Sophomore Assessment Modeled after the F.E. Exam Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25803

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: © 2016 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