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Taste Of Engineering: Integrating Engineering Into A Liberal Arts Institution

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Early College Retention Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1194.1 - 10.1194.10



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Paper Authors

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Yvonne Ng

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


Mathematical Sciences and Faculty co-Leader of Centers of Excellence for Women, Science and Technology College of St. Catherine

Abstract Studies show that exposing students to engineering early in their college career increases their retention in engineering programs. But how can such an experience be created at a liberal arts partner institution that has no engineering department? The College of St. Catherine, the largest Catholic women’s institution in the US, is the liberal arts partner in engineering dual degree programs with the University of Minnesota and Washington University. Recruitment and retention of women in engineering is an important part of the College’s mission to educate women to lead and influence. “Taste of Engineering” is a pilot program that both supports women deciding to major in engineering and exposes other students to what engineering is. The program’s design rests on the school’s strengths as a 100-year-old women’s college and center for social activism as well as the current research in women and engineering. It has groups of students gathering together to address socially relevant problems using the engineering design process. Other important characteristics include 1) creating a social nature to the gathering, 2) educating science faculty about the engineering process so they can better identify successful engineering students and relate their courses to engineering students, 3) making the program into a 1-credit course that could be taken by students each semester during their 2-3-years of engineering preparation at the College, 4) tracking the participants’ success in the engineering part of their education, and 5) assisting other institutions interested in creating a campus-wide, women-friendly recruitment and retention program at their campuses.

1 “Tasting” Engineering Historically, engineering students took science and mathematics pre-requisite courses in the first year of college. It wasn’t until the sophomore year that students were even exposed to engineering. Freshman programs have recently been installed into many engineering programs to expose students to the engineering discipline earlier.

Since the College of St. Catherine (CSC) is a Engineering Liberal Arts liberal arts school, our role in engineering education is to complement that of Figure 1: Engineering-Liberal Arts institutions with engineering programs. While “Smattering” and Connection innovative engineering schools such as Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering “smatter” liberal arts and social issues into the engineering discipline, we “smatter” engineering into the liberal arts and professional disciplines that our women students have naturally gravitated towards: Education, Health Sciences (Nursing, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Exercise Science), Business, and Social Work (Figure 1). These “smattering” courses are also an integral part of an engineering recruitment and preparation program necessary for students pursuing an engineering degree through the various dual degree partnerships we have.

Ng, Y. (2005, June), Taste Of Engineering: Integrating Engineering Into A Liberal Arts Institution Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14332

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