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Pre Eminence In First Year Engineering Programs

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Introduction to Engineering and More

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1000.1 - 9.1000.11



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Paper Authors

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Linda Katehi

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Kamyar Haghighi

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Katherine Banks

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John Gaunt

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Robert Montgomery

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P.K. Imbrie

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Deborah Follman

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Phillip Wankat

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2653

Preeminence in First-Year Engineering Programs Linda P.B. Katehi, Katherine Banks, Heidi A. Diefes-Dux, Deborah K. Follman, John Gaunt, Kamyar Haghighi, P.K. Imbrie, Leah H. Jamieson, Robert E. Montgomery, William C. Oakes, and Phillip Wankat Purdue University West Lafayette, IN


The Department of Freshman Engineering (FrE) at Purdue University is currently celebrating its 50th Anniversary. For five decades the Department has slowly evolved, reacting to nationwide trends and advances by incorporating new pedagogical approaches to engineering education, and adopting engineering technologies appropriate to the time. The Department is now looking towards taking a leadership role in engineering education reform. Such a step will create opportunities to reform the first-year engineering program, long the centerpiece of FrE.

FrE serves as the gateway to the Schools of Engineering with all students completing the FrE core curriculum being admissible as sophomores to the professional engineering degree programs at Purdue. In this role, FrE works closely with the Engineering Professional Schools, the School of Science, and the School of Liberal Arts, as well as industry, alumni and parents to recruit, retain, and reinforce outstanding engineering students.

Transformation of the first-year program needs to find balance between a number of opposing forces. A minimum of fundamentals in science and math are required to prepare students for their sophomore engineering coursework, and exposure to the nature of engineering and its opportunities is needed to enable students to identify an appropriate career path. However, the academic rigor of the first year in engineering is overly challenging and even shocking for many students. Still, calls for engineering education reform speak of educating students in areas of communication, ethics and professionalism, design, working in teams, leadership, entrepreneurship, and global understanding (to name a few), all of which vie for curriculum time. As we seek to transform the first year we also need to keep an eye to current engineering education research, and to those issues touching on matters of diversity and social responsibility.

This paper will share the struggle and the insight gained by its authors in transforming a high- quality first year program into one seeking recognition as "preeminent." Planning activities, reactions to opportunities and threats, overcoming resource constraints, showcasing and exploiting of strengths, shoring up of weaknesses, and the overall process of transforming the first-year program will be discussed.


To successfully compete and to be leaders in the future work place, our graduates must have a world-class engineering education, be equipped with the latest technical knowledge and tools, and have adequate understanding of the social, economic, and even political issues that affect

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Katehi, L., & Haghighi, K., & Diefes-Dux, H., & Banks, K., & Gaunt, J., & Montgomery, R., & Oakes, W., & Imbrie, P., & Follman, D., & Wankat, P. (2004, June), Pre Eminence In First Year Engineering Programs Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--12963

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: © 2004 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