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Teaching Computer Competencies To Today’s Computer Age Students

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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

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1197.1 - 10.1197.9



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Paper Authors

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Gregory Watkins

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Ambrose Barry

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Nan Byars

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

Teaching Computer Competencies to Today’s Computer Age Students

Gregory K. Watkins, Nan A. Byars, Ambrose G. Barry

William States Lee College of Engineering The University of North Carolina at Charlotte Charlotte, NC 28223


The Engineering Technology (ET) department at UNC Charlotte began offering the first two years of its BSET curriculum in the fall semester 2004, having previously been exclusively a “two plus two” program. Although much of the first two years includes basic studies in English, math, and physics, the department has chosen to teach its own freshman level class in computer competency.

The goal of ETGR 1100, Engineering Technology Computer Applications, is to provide basic computer competencies that will prepare freshman students for the remainder of their studies here at UNC Charlotte. The course covers the use of standard office applications in engineering, advanced use of scientific calculators, and also gives a sampling of specialized engineering software, such as Electronics Workbench and Mathcad.

While the content of the course is fairly straight forward, the real challenge it its development and delivery is the background of today’s Computer Age student. The vast majority of entering freshmen at UNC Charlotte are traditional students, in that they are about eighteen years old and have come directly from high school. As such, most have grown up with computers, and have been using them for years. While this may at first seem to be an advantage, it turns out that exactly the opposite is true. Because these students have mastered email, the web, and instant messaging, they feel they already know everything a computer can do.

This paper describes the basic methodologies used in developing this course, along with the various strategies employed in its delivery. An assortment of teaching practices is examined, with opinions offered as to their effectiveness with this unique student population. Before and after survey data are presented, including an initial self assessment by the students of their competency in various software packages, which in most cases turned out to be somewhat overestimated.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Watkins, G., & Barry, A., & Byars, N. (2005, June), Teaching Computer Competencies To Today’s Computer Age Students Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14272

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