New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Educational Research and Methods
This research paper explores the motivations behind freshmen engineering projects, particularly as they vary by gender composition of the team. All freshmen in the engineering program at Louisiana Tech University must take and pass Engineering Problem Solving III, an engineering design class, before moving on to sophomore engineering classes. Students are instructed to team up in groups of two to five to design and construct a “smart product” using the knowledge gained from their previous Engineering Problem Solving I and II classes. At the end of the quarter, each team must submit a project abstract before presenting their work at the Freshmen Design Expo. This qualitative study looks at these abstracts in an attempt to find a pattern between the gender composition of the group and the motivation behind the product. Eighty-one project abstracts are analyzed, representing 227 students. Several distinct themes emerged from the analysis of the project abstracts. The most common themes were Annoying and Frustrating, Efficiency and Time Saving, Safety, Elderly and Disabled, Health and Sanitation, Forgetfulness, and Children. Analysis of how these themes map to gender composition of design teams is ongoing. These themes will help to understand how students view the impact that they can have as future engineers. Redesigning curricula and analyzing recruitment techniques to encompass particular themes may help to attract and retain more students in engineering. In this study, groups that had an equal number of males and females were more likely to design a socially conscious project than groups that were mostly male or mostly female.
Rucks, M., & Orr, M. K., & Hall, D. E. (2016, June), Social Consciousness in Engineering Students: An Analysis of Freshmen Design Project Abstracts Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25820
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