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Reform the Intro to Engineering course For Retaining Minority Engineering Freshmen

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

New Approaches in Engineering

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.11.1 - 23.11.8



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Paper Authors

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Singli Garcia-Otero Virginia State University

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Nasser Ghariban Virginia State University

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Fedra Adnani

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Reform the Intro to Engineering course For Retaining Minority Engineering FreshmenAbstractIt is always a challenge to retain engineering students, especially in Historically Black Collegesand Universities (HBCUs) like ours. There are several fundamental problems, and we providesome solutions to these fundamental problems by reforming the Intro to Engineering course.The first fundamental problem is the open admission of the general population of students intothe engineering programs. The curriculum of the engineering programs is much more rigorousthan the other majors at our university. Specifically, all of the engineering programs at ouruniversity are accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET).This national and important accreditation requires a very rigorous program, which is mandatoryin order to maintain the accreditation. Thus, many students enter the engineering programswithout the minimum base of mathematical education required to have a reasonable chance ofsurviving the first year. At least partially because of this, more than half of our engineeringfreshmen typically change their majors and exit engineering during the first year. Effectively,many of these freshmen never had a reasonable chance of success (because they enteredengineering without the minimum base of mathematics).The second fundamental problem is a lack of understanding by the students of what engineeringreally is. Most students have only a vague idea of what engineering is. For example, somestudents chose the Computer Engineering because they like to play video games or to makedigital music. Thus, these students encounter the stringent challenges of studying the difficultand demanding requirements for engineering (such as Calculus, Physics, and Chemistry) withouthaving any idea of the beauty that awaits them at the end of the degree. The students need tobelieve that a STEM major is worth the effort, that they have the ability to complete their degree,and that the degree is very useful for future employment.Like many other engineering programs in the U.S., we require incoming freshmen to declaretheir intended major, and we have two semesters of Introduction to Engineering (ENGR 101 andENGR 102) which are required for all the engineering students. This paper discusses some ofthe methods we use in first semester Introduction to Engineering to increase the retention rate,and shows the statistical results for the past two years due to the reform of the course.

Garcia-Otero, S., & Ghariban, N., & Adnani, F. (2013, June), Reform the Intro to Engineering course For Retaining Minority Engineering Freshmen Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19020

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