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The Engagement and Retention of Electrical Engineering Students with a First Semester Freshman Experience Course

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Recruitment, Retention, and First-Year Programs in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1455.1 - 22.1455.14



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Paper Authors


Hector A. Ochoa University of Texas, Tyler

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Hector A. Ochoa received hi Ph.D. in computer engineering from The University of Texas at El Paso in 2007. He received his M.S. in Physical Sciences from The University of Texas at El Paso in 2004. Hi joined The University of Texas at Tyler as a visiting professor at the departement of electrical engineering on Fall of 2007. In fall of 2008 he started working as an assitant professor at the same university. His research interests include: Radar Systems, Wireless Communications and Antennas.

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Mukul Shirvaikar University of Texas, Tyler

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Dr. Mukul Shirvaikar is the Chair and Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Texas, Tyler, where he develops curriculum and laboratories in computer engineering. Prior to this he worked at Texas Instruments specializing in real time imaging systems. Dr. Shirvaikar graduated with his doctorate from the University of Tennessee. He also has a M.S. degree from the University of Maine, and a B.Tech. from Banaras Hindu University, India. His current research interests include real time imaging and engineering education.

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The Engagement and Retention of Electrical Engineering Students with a First Semester Freshman Experience Course  Freshman retention has been a critical issue for engineering programs over the last decade.Universities have implemented many different approaches to improve freshman retentionincluding: creating general freshman courses to give early hands-on experience to the students1-4,utilizing student feedback to design courses5, and moving the ownership and maintenance oflaboratory equipment from the university to the students6. In the fall semester of 2009, theElectrical Engineering program at __________ took the initiative of creating and offering a firstsemester freshman experience course aimed at improving freshman retention. The rationale forcreating this course was based on student and faculty feedback, and comments provided bygraduating seniors during their senior exit interview. A number of students also expressed theirconcern about how late the electrical engineering laboratory experience is in the curriculum. Thedepartmental faculty took the decision to help electrical engineering students by developing acourse specially designed for their freshman year entitled “Engineering The Future: Electricaland Digital Concepts”. The only preparation expected from the students is high school algebra.The purpose of the course is to introduce the students to the different areas of ElectricalEngineering such as: History of Electrical Engineering, Electrical Concepts and Components,Digital Systems, Communications Systems, Electronics, Power Systems and ComputerEngineering. The students are also exposed to the National Electric Code and to the toolscommonly used by electrical engineering students like: oscilloscopes, multimeters, functionsgenerators, PSpice and MATLAB. Finally, to complement the freshman experience, practicingelectrical engineers are invited to talk about their experiences and a module on engineering yourcareer was introduced by design. The students are also expected to attend IEEE meetings, andstudy the IEEE Code of Ethics. The intention of the course is to provide the students with ahealthy exposure to professional practice and real projects in the different areas of electricalengineering.This paper will present the data collected as a part of the course offering over two academicyears, specifically split into two analysis categories. The first part of the data analysis will focuson the effect of the course on student retention, extracted from the freshman cohorts. The secondpart of the data analysis will focus on student surveys performed at the end of the semester. Thissurvey was designed to measure vital components of overall course effectiveness with finergranularity, including students understanding of topics such as the role of electrical engineersand their impact on society.References[1] H. Knickle, “Foundations of Engineering a First Year Course”, Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference, Washington, DC 1996.[2] J. W. Pierre, F. K. Tuffner, “A One-Credit Hands-On Introductory Course In Electrical and Computer Engineering Using a Variety of Topics Modules”, IEEE Transactions on Education, vol. 52, No. 2, May 2009.[3] Ronald Roth, “Improving Freshman Retention Through an Introduction to Engineering Design Course”, Proceedings of the ASEE Annual, 2001, Albuquerque, NM 2001.[4] Ruben Rojas-Oviedo, Dr. X. Cathy Qian, “Improving Retention of Undergraduate Students in Engineering through Freshman Courses”, Proceedings of the ASEE Annual, Montréal, Quebec, Canada 2002.[5] M. R. Anderson-Rowland, “Understanding Freshman Engineering Students Retention through a Survey”, Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference, Milwaukee, WI, 1997.[6] D. Hall, H. Hegab, and J. Nelson, “Living with the Lab – Freshman Curriculum to Boost Hands-on Learning, Student Confidence and Innovation”, 38th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, Saratoga Springs, NY, 2008.

Ochoa, H. A., & Shirvaikar, M. (2011, June), The Engagement and Retention of Electrical Engineering Students with a First Semester Freshman Experience Course Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18540

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