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Surveying Student Interest in the Biological Systems Engineering Major

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

Biological and Agricultural Engineering Division Technical Session 2

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Paper Authors


Jennifer Mullin

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Professor of Teaching in the Dept. of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at UC Davis

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Gail Bornhorst

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An anonymous student survey developed by department faculty supported recruitment and retention efforts in a Biological & Agricultural Engineering program at a large public land-grant research university. The survey was a response to perceived changes in first year student’s interests in the Engineering Biological Systems (EBS) major from year to year. Outcomes and analysis of the quantitative and qualitative survey data (n =123) for students enrolled in the introductory course (EBS 1), collected over a four-year period beginning in fall 2017, are presented and discussed in this paper. Analysis results revealed insights into sources of information students accessed before making their decision to enroll with interests in biology and engineering was a primary motivator for choosing the EBS major. Data analysis further explored student interest levels across the four areas of excellence for research and course focus (i.e., Agricultural and Natural Resources Engineering, Biotechnical Engineering, Food Engineering and General Biological Systems Engineering) offered by the department along with students motivations and plans to continue in EBS major. This paper may be of interest to teaching faculty and department leadership in agricultural and biological engineering programs.

Mullin, J., & Bornhorst, G. (2022, August), Surveying Student Interest in the Biological Systems Engineering Major Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. 10.18260/1-2--41451

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