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Summer Industrial Projects Program (SiPP) Drives Engineering Technology Student Retention

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Student Recruitment and Retention in ET Programs

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1441.1 - 26.1441.8



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Paper Authors


Robert J Durkin Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis

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Mr. Durkin teaches courses in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Technology; including the capstone design and independent study projects. He serves as a Faculty Senator and earned the 2013 Outstanding Teacher Award.
He has over 25 years of engineering and manufacturing experience including; design, project management, and various engineering, research and manufacturing leadership roles. He has been awarded two US patents.
He is an alumnus of Indiana Institute of Technology, and the University of Notre Dame; where he graduated Magna cum Laude.

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Summer Industrial Projects Program (SiPP) Drives Engineering Technology Student RetentionAbstractBy its very nature Engineering Technology (ET) is experiential learning. EngineeringTechnology is a hands-on profession that combines knowledge of mathematics and science withthe practical experience of applying technology. While ET curriculums include applied calculusand the physical sciences, its content is not as theoretical as traditional engineering education.Engineering Technology prepares graduates to implement technology; evidenced by the nearly60% of classes that include laboratory content.Laboratory exercises are designed to simulate manufacturing process and product designproblems. While labs are critical to gaining technology experience, they are not engineeringprojects. The first comprehensive engineering project a student attempts is the program’scapstone course; the Senior Design. Here, the student is typically asked to state a problem,design and sometimes construct the solution, and present the results as the course deliverable.As the name implies, it is offered to seniors and typically in the last semester. Timing of theclass can sometimes reduce its benefit as students rush to completion just to close out theircollege career.The under-served component of Engineering Technology education is engineering projects.This paper describes a three-year NSF-funded summer program designed to improve studentretention in Engineering Technology by placing students into an industrial setting to gainpractical engineering experience. Sophomore and Junior-level students were organized intoteams and assigned to small or medium-sized manufacturing firms close to the university. Eachteam conceived and/or implemented a two-month manufacturing project that solved a design orprocess problem.The program promoted student retention and persistence in Engineering Technology in foursignificant ways. 1) The emotional experience of a meaningful engineering project re-kindles the student’s desire to become an engineer. 2) Successful projects can improve the financial strength of the Industrial Partner, improving the probability of continued association with the university. 3) The student significantly interacts with an engineering or manufacturing staff; becomes known, and is evaluated by a potential future employer. 4) The student receives ET credits for the project experience. NSF-funded scholarships and Industry Partner donations reimbursed tuition associated with the independent study course.

Durkin, R. J. (2015, June), Summer Industrial Projects Program (SiPP) Drives Engineering Technology Student Retention Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24778

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