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Perceptions and Applications of Honors Contracts in Developing an Undergraduate Engineering Research Experience

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Conference

2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016

ISBN

978-0-692-68565-5

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Active Learning and Undergraduate Research in ET

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count

21

DOI

10.18260/p.25882

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/25882

Download Count

77

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Paper Authors

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Yanjun Yan Western Carolina University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-5152-6614

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Yanjun Yan received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Harbin Institute of Technology (China), and the M.S. degree in Applied Statistics and the Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from Syracuse University. She is an assistant professor in engineering and technology at Western Carolina University. Her research interests are statistical signal processing, diagnostics, and particle swarm optimization.

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Sudhir Kaul Western Carolina University

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Dr. Kaul is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Western Carolina University. His research interests include Fracture Diagnostics, Structural Dynamics and Control, and Motorcycle Dynamics.

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Chip W. Ferguson Western Carolina University

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Chip Ferguson is the Associate Dean of the Kimmel School and Associate Professor of Engineering and Technology at Western Carolina University.

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Paul M. Yanik Western Carolina University

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Dr. Paul Yanik is an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology at Western Carolina University. His research interests include human-robot interactions, assistive devices, pattern recognition, machine learning, and engineering education.

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April Tallant Western Carolina University

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April Tallant, PhD, RD, LDN is from western North Carolina. She earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Health Sciences from Western Carolina University (WCU). She completed her PhD at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She served as assistant professor for the School of Health Sciences at WCU for several years. She is currently the Associate Dean of The Honors College at WCU where she coordinates undergraduate research. Dr. Tallant is the recipient of the 2008 WCU Excellence in Teaching Liberal Studies Award and the 2012 WCU Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award. She enjoys teaching transition courses and first year seminars, studying about food access in rural areas, and engaging in the scholarship of teaching and learning.

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Abstract

Honors colleges have become very effective in attracting and recruiting highly motivated and talented students to institutions of higher education [1, 2]. The Honors Path allows students to earn an Honors Diploma and provides them with unique educational opportunities, which facilitates strong personal and academic growth [1]. At Western Carolina University (WCU), two ways to earn Honors credit include taking an honors course (often a general education course) or to fulfill an Honors contract through a required major course in order to complete the 24 credit hours required to receive the Honors Diploma [3]. With engineering curriculum requiring 17-18 credit hours per semester, engineering students have little to no capacity for completing the Honors Path through extra course work and typically couple Honors contract projects with their engineering courses. Honors contract projects are mentored by sponsoring faculty mentors and are closely related to the faculty members’ engineering practice and/or research efforts. The Honors contract projects are often (although optionally) presented orally to the entire class, which is not only beneficial to the students who conduct them, but also inspirational for their classmates. More importantly, these contracts can be a part of a research project to help advance the faculty member’s scholarship, or a response to industry or community needs, which help solve real-world problems [4]. Benefits of Honors contracts to the student include working closely with a faculty mentor, tailoring their education based on their interests and take a greater responsibility in their education [5].The impact of the Honors contacts in undergraduate engineering research at WCU has been far-reaching and significant. In this paper, the motivations, practices, and impact of the Honors contracts are examined. Student perceptions and the applications of Honors contracts, in developing an undergraduate engineering research experience, is thoroughly analyzed. Several past projects in electrical engineering, engineering-mechanical, and engineering technology programs are presented, which were developed from the students’ daily life, research needs, and industry/community needs. Honors projects that integrate multiple contracts and courses across the curriculum and grade levels are discussed. Suggestions for improving the Honors contracts pathway are also presented. This paper aims to serve as a reference to inspire more ideas from the faculty who have mentored honors students.

Yan, Y., & Kaul, S., & Ferguson, C. W., & Yanik, P. M., & Tallant, A. (2016, June), Perceptions and Applications of Honors Contracts in Developing an Undergraduate Engineering Research Experience Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25882

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