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Pre-College Engineering Participation Among First-Year Engineering Students

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

FPD 1: The Path to Engineering

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.992.1 - 24.992.8



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Paper Authors


Noah Salzman Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Noah Salzman is a doctoral candidate in engineering education at Purdue University. He received his B.S. in engineering from Swarthmore College, his M.Ed. in secondary science education from University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and his M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University. He has work experience as an engineer and taught science, technology, engineering, and mathematics at the high school level. His research focuses on the intersection of pre-college and undergraduate engineering programs

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George D. Ricco Purdue University, West Lafayette

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George Dante Ricco is a recent graduate of the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University and is on the job market. His work focuses on applying various research methods to address long standing anecdotal questions, ranging from ethnographic studies to hierarchical linear models.
He was born in Kent, Ohio. He attended Walsh Jesuit High School, and instead of becoming a Jesuit, he decided to go to Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland to obtain his BSE in engineering physics (2002). He then spent a number of years on the beach at the University of California at Santa Cruz, receiving master's degrees in physics (2007) and earth and planetary sciences (2008) until emancipated by Prof. Matthew Ohland at Purdue University. He enjoys cycling, weightlifting, running, photography, volunteering at a number of organizations, and the untold intellectual pleasures provided by the study of Lagomorph physiology. He resides in Lafayette, Indiana, and in-between job interviews spends time with his Leporidae life partner, Rochelle Huffington Nibblesworth.

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Matthew W. Ohland Purdue University and Central Queensland University Orcid 16x16

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Matthew W. Ohland is Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University and a Professorial Research Fellow at Central Queensland University. He has degrees from Swarthmore College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the University of Florida. His research on the longitudinal study of engineering students, team assignment, peer evaluation, and active and collaborative teaching methods has been supported by over $12.8 million from the National Science Foundation and the Sloan Foundation and his team received Best Paper awards from the Journal of Engineering Education in 2008 and 2011 and from the IEEE Transactions on Education in 2011. Dr. Ohland is past Chair of ASEE’s Educational Research and Methods division and a member the Board of Governors of the IEEE Education Society. He was the 2002–2006 President of Tau Beta Pi.

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Precollege Engineering Participation Among First-Year Engineering StudentsIn recent years, engineering content is increasingly appearing in the K-12 classroom. Thisgrowth can be attributed to increased acceptance of engineering as an area of study at the K-12level, the growing inclusion of engineering content in state and national educational standards,and the growth of outreach activities intended to increase students’ interest in pursuing degreesand careers in engineering. As precollege engineering programs grow, first-year engineeringstudents are arriving in university engineering programs with significant prior exposure toengineering content and practices. Despite this growth, little research exists that explores theprevalence of participation in these programs or the effects of participation on first-yearengineering students.In this paper, we present the results of a survey of first-year engineering students on theirparticipation in precollege engineering programs and activities. Students enrolled in four sectionsof a first-year engineering program at a large public university were asked to complete a surveyindicating the settings where they encountered engineering prior to college, named and describedthe various activities that they participated in and the approximate amount of time they spentdoing each activity. Participants also provided demographic information.Results indicate that 89 percent of domestic students enrolling in first-year engineering classes atthe university have experiences they describe as engineering prior to college. High school classesare the most common way that students are exposed to engineering content by a significantmargin, followed by extra-curricular activities, summer camps or programs, and middle schoolclasses. While the majority of respondents reported participating in one or two differentactivities, some reported participating in as many as nine different precollege engineeringprograms or activities. These activities ranged in exposure from short term class projects oractivities, to students involved for multiple years in an engineering course sequence orextracurricular activity.In the full paper, we will explore the relationships between precollege engineering participationand students’ demographics such as race and gender. We will also explore the relationshipbetween participation in various types of precollege engineering activities and students’ choiceof engineering major.

Salzman, N., & Ricco, G. D., & Ohland, M. W. (2014, June), Pre-College Engineering Participation Among First-Year Engineering Students Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22925

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