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Redesigning a Summer Math and Engineering Bootcamp for Virtual Instruction During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

First-Year Programs: Recruiting and Retention

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

18

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37646

Download Count

146

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Paper Authors

biography

Zahrasadat Alavi California State University, Chico

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Dr. Zahrasadat Alavi, an Assistant Professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at California State University Chico, received her PhD in Electrical Engineering from University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in May 2015. She received her B.Sc. and M.Sc. from Amirkabir University (Polytechnic of Tehran) with honors in 2007 and 2009 respectively, and another Master of Science from University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (UWM) in Electrical Engineering in 2012. She was an Assistant Professor at the Electrical and Instrumentation Department of Los Medanos College during 2016-2017 academic year. She was an Adjunct Faculty at San Francisco State University and Diablo Valley College during 2015-2016 academic year, and an instructor at UWM from January 2014 until May 2015. She is the principal investigator on several grants such as National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation for the acquisition of FTIR Spectroscopic Imaging system, Student Success Grant, and CSU Chico Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity. She is also a co- principal investigator on another NSF-MRI grant and an Office of Naval Research Grant.

She is currently the director of Alavi FTIR Spectroscopic Imaging Lab (AFISIL) and supervises multiple undergraduate students in their research. Her research interest includes characterization of biological samples by employing FTIR Spectroscopic Imaging techniques and developing novel digital image processing and analysis algorithms to process the collected FTIR-spectro-microscopic data. Additionally, Dr Alavi is a member of IEEE, ASEE and she has been a member of McLeod Institute of Simulation Science and pursues research in advanced control systems simulation. Dr Alavi also conducts research in promoting electrical engineering undergraduate education and is the recipient of the best paper award in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Division of American Society of Engineering Education.

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Kevin Buffardi California State University, Chico

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Dr. Buffardi is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at California State University, Chico. After gaining industry experience as a usability and human factors engineering specialist, he earned a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Virginia Tech. His research concentrates on software engineering education, software testing, and eLearning tools.

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Kun Zhang P.E. California State University, Chico

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Dr. Kun Zhang is an assistant professor at the Department of Civil Engineering at California State University Chico. He received his doctoral degree from Washington State University in 2016. His research focuses on materials recycling for pavement construction and numerical analysis in engineering applications. He teaches Statics, Soil Mechanics and Foundation (Lectures and Labs), and Transportation Engineering Laboratories at CSU Chico.

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Kathleen Meehan California State University, Chico

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Kathleen Meehan earned her B.S. in electrical engineering from Manhattan College and her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. After graduation, she worked at Lytel, Inc., Polaroid Corporation, and Biocontrol Technology. She moved into academia full-time in 1997 and worked at the University of Denver, West Virginia University, and Virginia Tech. From 2013 to 2017, she was the director of the Electronics and Electrical Engineering program at University of Glasgow-University of Electronic Science and Technology of China. Dr. Meehan became chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the California State University, Chico in 2017. She is actively involved in the development of mobile hands-on pedagogy as well as research on other topics in STEM education, the synthesis and characterization of nanoscale materials, and fermentation processes.

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Webster R. Johnson California State University, Chico

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Dr. W.R. Johnson has been a researcher and university professor for the past four decades. He is currently a lecturer at California State University at Chico, lecturing in CAD, thermodynamics, numerical methods, material science and testing, dynamics, and heat transfer.

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Abstract

This Complete Evidence-Based Practice paper discusses the redesign and transition of a Math and Engineering bootcamp to an exclusively online format for compliance with safety protocols required during the COVID-19 pandemic. The main goal of the bootcamp was to increase the graduation rates in engineering (ENGR) and computer science (CS). The four- and six-year rates (~17.7% and ~64.5%), are below the University’s average graduation rates (~ 33.1% and 67.4%, respectively). We designed the bootcamp to improve graduation rates by a) improving students’ knowledge and confidence in required math topics, b) familiarizing students with CS and ENGR majors through problem-based learning activities that integrate skills from multiple disciplines. Calculus and other math courses serve as prerequisites to most of the ENGR and CS courses. Therefore, each time a student fails a math course, his/her graduation is delayed by at least one semester. In addition, some upper-division courses are offered only once a year, so delays in completing their prerequisites may even delay graduation a year or more. Some students are not privy to prior exposure to CS and ENGR and only learn about the discipline after taking multiple classes in the major. As a result, some students change majors after they have spent multiple years in their original major, which also delays graduation. The bootcamp recruited incoming freshman and transfer students with declared majors in CS and several ENGR majors. The bootcamp accepted students from all populations but prioritized underrepresented minorities and first generation students. We observed an increase in diversity compared to previous bootcamp, due to increasing participation of female students. The three-week bootcamp transitioned to entirely-virtual, comprised of practicing Pre-Calculus math problems with educational software (ALEKS) and developing solutions to engineering projects with synchronous video conferencing instruction via Zoom. Students received instruction and assistance (via Zoom) from faculty and student assistants throughout the bootcamp. Finally, students integrated four projects that focused on different disciplines, including programming a robot to detect and circumnavigate obstacles, designing and constructing a truss bridge, modeling the dynamics of a trebuchet, and programming the robot to implement a PID Controller. Four out of the seventeen students successfully completed the final challenge, which required designing and building a truss bridge capable of handling a certain load, programming the robot to find its way to find entrance and cross the bridge, and reaching the trebuchet to load the payload. By comparing responses in pre- and post-bootcamp surveys, students indicated an increased confidence and ability to solve problems in Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Pre-calculus and Calculus. Additionally, the students expressed an increase in realizing the importance of math in learning CS and ENGR concepts. The paper will discuss the quantitative and qualitative results of the surveys. The authors will assess the students’ performance in the ALEKS, discipline-based projects, as well as the student success in the math courses during the Fall 2020 online semester. Faculty reflections on the online bootcamp and the differences with the previous year will highlight opportunities for improving virtual bootcamp delivery for preparing future engineers.

Alavi, Z., & Buffardi, K., & Zhang, K., & Meehan, K., & Johnson, W. R. (2021, July), Redesigning a Summer Math and Engineering Bootcamp for Virtual Instruction During the COVID-19 Pandemic Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37646

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