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Ten Years and Ten Lessons Learned: Design of an Introduction to Engineering Course in a Nascent School of Engineering

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

First-Year Programs Division Poster Session

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First-Year Programs

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Jonathan Aurand P.E. Dunwoody College of Technology

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Jonathan Aurand has been teaching mechanical engineering at Dunwoody College of Technology since 2016. Prior to joining the faculty at Dunwoody, Aurand practiced as an engineer in the power industry serving as a consulting engineer for Heat Recovery Steam Generators (HRSGs) in combined cycle power plants. Aurand is a registered professional engineer in Minnesota and holds an MSME degree from the University of Minnesota. He currently resides in Minneapolis, MN.

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David Andrew Adolfson Dunwoody College of Technology

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David Adolfson has been teaching industrial and mechanical engineering at Dunwoody College of Technology since 2017. Prior to joining the faculty at Dunwoody, Adolfson practiced engineering in the manufacturing, construction, aerospace and defense industries. Adolfson holds a MSME degree from the University of Minnesota. He currently resides in Saint Paul, MN.

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The Introduction to Engineering course at [Institution] serves as a foundation for students enrolled in the electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, software engineering, and industrial engineering technology programs. This paper summarizes some of the lessons learned while developing and reworking an Introduction to Engineering course in a new and growing School of Engineering. One area of particular interest is the merging of two separate courses into a generalized course with learning outcomes that serve the needs of students in all four programs.

The School of Engineering at [Institution] started in 2011 with a Bachelor completion degree in Industrial Engineering Technology. This program holds classes in the evening to accommodate working adults who completed an Associates of Applied Science degree in a related field which serves as the first two years in the 2 + 2 completion program. In this program a 2-credit course titled Introduction to Engineering was taken in the first semester. In 2016 a traditional Mechanical Engineering program (day courses, more traditional aged students) was added, and a 3-credit course was created which has some similarities to the evening course. Additional offerings of Software Engineering and Electrical Engineering were added in 2017 and 2018 respectively which take the 3-credit version.

One of the authors has taught the day course in fall 2016, spring 2017, fall 2017, fall 2018, and fall 2020. The evening course, which is offered every semester, was primarily taught by adjunct instructors through the early years of the program. The evening program offers the course every semester. Since spring 2018 the evening course has been taught by full-time faculty including the other author.

As the course audience has expanded, the needs of the students have changed. [Institution] is a school that distinguishes itself as a place where students learn by doing. As such, the daytime offering of the course has always included a design project. Other course content is like offerings at other institutions with a focus on study skills, applying the engineering design process, surveying various engineering disciplines, communication, and teamwork. For the evening students, the primary purpose is to get them to understand the rigor and time commitment required to be successful in the completion program. The overarching goals for the course are threefold: 1. Is engineering the right path for me? 2. Is the discipline I have selected the right choice for me? 3. What career opportunities are available for engineers in my chosen discipline? Since the evening students have less options without starting over, they generally do not explore the second goal as much.

Some additions and changes have been focused on broadening student perspectives and giving students tools to understand the curriculum and increase persistence which in turn improves retention. Both groups have benefited from a Women in Engineering panel, generalized estimation practice such as scoping a problem or developing a calculation based on gross assumptions, and growing an appreciation for mathematics and its application in engineering curricula.

Changes to the course have been made based on student feedback and instructor observation. In particular, the design project has changed to better achieve the course goals. Conclusions on the content, methods, and activities that most effectively (in our current understanding) serve our student population are also presented.

Aurand, J., & Adolfson, D. A. (2021, July), Ten Years and Ten Lessons Learned: Design of an Introduction to Engineering Course in a Nascent School of Engineering Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37831

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