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Retention Strategies In Smaller Technology Majors

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Recruiting and Retention

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1091.1 - 11.1091.7



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Paper Authors


Janice Girouard University of Hartford

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Janice Girouard serves as the Director of Student Services for the College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture at the University of Hartford. She earned her BFA at the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford in 1978 and her M.Ed. at the College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions, University of Hartford in 2004.

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Ivana Milanovic University of Hartford


Natalie Segal University of Hartford

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Prior to her appointment as a full-time teacher of technical communications at S. I. Ward College of Technology at the University of Hartford, Assistant Professor NATALIE SEGAL worked for more than 20 years as a technical writer and taught technical writing part-time at Ward College for eight years. She holds her Bachelor's Degree in English Education from the University of Connecticut, a Master's Degree in English from Trinity College and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine. In addition to her fiction and poetry writing, Professor Segal is involved in research into the application of multiple intelligences theory in the college classroom.

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Dr. Sallie 'Lee' Townsend

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DR. SALLIE S. TOWNSEND is an optical physicist who earned her Ph.D. in physics at the University of New Hampshire and then worked for United Technologies as a theorist and computer modeler of high energy lasers and optical systems. After leaving United Technologies, she formed a small laser business. Her industrial work has led to five patents. For the last several years she has taught mathematics and physics at the Ward College of Technology, which recently was merged with the College of Engineering to form the College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture at University of Hartford. This spring she will teach optics to graduate students in the College.

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


The technology programs in the College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture at the University of Hartford vary widely in number of incoming students. The three smallest programs or majors, Computer Engineering Technology, Electronic Engineering Technology, and Mechanical Engineering Technology, each comprise fewer than 20 entering students a year. The larger programs, Architectural Engineering Technology and Audio Engineering Technology, each bring in about 40 or more entering students a year. The three smaller programs face issues retaining first-year students who typically come into the University with lower SAT scores, enroll in majors that are perceived to be more difficult and less ‘fun,’ and tend to be lost among the larger populations. However, we have devised strategies to engage students in those smaller majors, and those strategies appear to be working. In this paper, we will share our strategies and plans for future activities aimed at retaining and growing our student population in the three smallest majors in the College.


Engineering and technology educators and administrators have written about retention issues extensively.1-9 An important factor in retention is the first-year experience.1 The body of work for increasing retention is differentiated by two types of instruction, one that offers lecture style, passive learning environments and the other that provides experiential learning with hands-on experience. Each institution should reflect and examine it’s own internal dynamics and reasons why students leave engineering technology programs as suggested by the study.5 This impetus was the motivation for the assessment of retention issues in the smaller technology programs in the College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture (CETA).

The technology programs in the newly merged College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture at the University of Hartford vary widely in enrollments. The largest programs, Architectural Engineering Technology (AET) and Audio Engineering Technology (AuET), easily attract 40 or more students each year because they are unique and offer more opportunities to express creativity early in the course of study. Those two programs could consistently bring in more students if not for limits imposed by space and faculty considerations. In contrast, our three smaller programs, Computer Engineering Technology (CET), Electronic Engineering Technology (EET), and Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET), are found on many campuses, are related closely to Engineering disciplines, and are perceived to be more narrowly structured, restrictive, and demanding with only long-term rewards.2 These programs enroll no more than 20 students a year.

Beginning almost ten years ago, the authors noticed that the students in AET and AuET easily formed strong, major-specific communities that included study groups and informal support groups. Those students seemed to have a strong commitment to their programs and continuing their studies. CET, EET, and MET students did not form those communities and did not seem to have the same commitment as reflected in declining numbers. Though the students in these majors were in the same section of the same course, they were typically scattered among other

Girouard, J., & Milanovic, I., & Segal, N., & Townsend, D. S. L. (2006, June), Retention Strategies In Smaller Technology Majors Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--327

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