June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.1009.1 - 13.1009.15
Project-based Introduction to Engineering for Freshman Students Abstract
After six years of discipline-specific freshman engineering courses for Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering majors, it was decided that all Engineering and Construction Management majors would share the same curriculum during their freshman year. The two main objectives of this change were to improve retention within the School of Engineering by facilitating a switch from one engineering major to another during or following the freshman year and to increase efficiency from a human resources perspective.
A team of experienced and junior faculty from all three engineering disciplines developed two new project-based Introduction to Engineering courses, one for each semester of the freshman year. The overall design of the courses was guided by three principles. First, each of the ABET Criterion 3 Outcomes a-k should be covered in the courses, with several of them being reinforced multiple times. Second, the steps for problem solving and design, which lie at the heart of engineering, should be introduced at the beginning of the first course and reinforced through a series of challenging engineering projects across each of the three engineering disciplines. Third, and perhaps the most important, retention within the school of engineering should be improved by means of imparting more excitement and less mundane work and better response to the varied backgrounds and learning styles of the students.
The courses are project-based. Besides technical and design objectives, the courses are to address ABET outcomes in the areas of economic, safety, environmental, social, and political implications of engineering work. Therefore, a project is defined by first selecting the desired ABET outcomes and then creating or evaluating potential exercises that are most suitable for reinforcing those outcomes. In addition, the primary skills that are necessary to successfully complete each of the projects, such as computer aided design, research methodologies, computer programming, communications, and time management are provided in a “just-in-time” mode with an interspersing of discussions about engineering professional topics. Working in teams and improving team dynamics for successful completion of the projects are emphasized.
The new courses are also developed with assessment in mind. The course goals are evaluated by the students through an online questionnaire and used with student's performance to define if a course goal has been satisfied. Benchmarks to be used include retention numbers within each of the engineering disciplines and across the entire school of engineering, and the number of contact hours of the instructors.
Introduction to Engineering (EG109 and EG110) is a new two course sequence that all Engineering and Construction Management majors are required to take in their freshman year. The course introduces the students to engineering problem solving and the design process through project-based instruction with a blend of technical skills and non-technical or so-called “soft” skills. At the time of the writing of this paper, the first semester course, EG109, had been
Wight, G., & Friend, R. D., & Beneat, J., & Barry, W. (2008, June), Project Based Introduction To Engineering For Freshman Students Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/3949
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