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The Genesis of Transformation: Preventing “Failure to Launch” Syndrome in Generation iY First-year Engineering Students

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

FPD XI: Tidbits and Cookies

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1302.1 - 25.1302.20



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Paper Authors


Jesse J. French LeTourneau University

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Jesse French is currently an Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering at LeTourneau University. He earned his B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in 1995. His M.S. and Ph.D. degrees are both in mechanical engineering from the University of Tulsa, with a concentration in solid mechanics, polymer and composite materials, and sustainable energy. French served in the U.S. Army for eight years on active duty and six years on reserve status. He served as a Cavalry Platoon Leader and Aeroscout pilot, a Cavalry Company Commander, Installation Commander, and as a Maintenance Test Pilot. His engineering and industry experience is in the repair of gas and oil pipelines with non-metallic materials and in the fabrication and testing of composite and lightweight structures, primarily aircraft and wind energy devices. French and his wife have served as full-time missionaries in Korea, China, and Mongolia and have lead student missions teams to several countries to conduct engineering missions support work. French joined the LETU faculty in the fall of 2010 and teaches design and engineering science courses at the undergraduate and graduate level in addition to advising graduate students and directing two senior projects.

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Paul R. Leiffer LeTourneau University

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Paul R. Leiffer, Ph.D., P.E., is a professor in the School of Engineering and Engineering Technology and Chairman of the Engineering Department at LeTourneau University, where he has taught since 1979. He is the Co-developer of LeTourneau’s program in BioMedical Engineering. He received his B.S.E.E. from the State University of New York, Buffalo, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Drexel University. Prior to joining the faculty at LeTourneau, he was involved in cardiac cell research at the University of Kansas Medical Center.
His professional interests include bioinstrumentation, engineering design, digital signal processing, and engineering ethics. Email:

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The Genesis of Transformation: A First Course in Engineering with a focus on Retention and Developing Professionalism Jesse J. French and Paul R. Leiffer School of Engineering and Engineering Technology LeTourneau University Longview, TX 75602, USA Students who fail to identify with engineering at the very beginning of their studies willoften become retention statistics. The second semester is already too late to introduce students toengineering activities, and the senior year is too late to introduce professionalism. A new “to bean engineer” class (a.k.a. Introduction to Engineering Practice I) has been implemented at ouruniversity. This new course, required for all first year engineering students, is intended to increaseretention in the engineering program by providing “iY Generation” students with a realistic viewof what “real” engineers do and what is expected of engineering students. The course engagesfirst semester engineering students with engineering flavored in-class activities and labs (e.g.wind generator design with wind tunnel testing) to provide a balance to the decidedly non-representative core courses (Calculus, Chemistry, English) that fill the first year of theengineering curriculum. Lesson modules lay the foundations for success in engineering education by providingstrong guidance in the area of study discipline, work quality expectations, classroom discipline(both behavioral and note taking techniques), and pride in the profession. Assignments work tojumpstart certain basic engineering science topics that are historically stumbling blocks duringthe second semester and for second year engineering students (e.g. statics, circuits, vectors, basicmechanics). This course begins the "Transformation to Professionalism" through introduction ofprofessional topics necessary for success outside the academic realm. Topics covered includecodes and standards, professional licensure, colleague and supervisorial relationships,professional societies, litigation and deposition, ethics, meeting behavior, conferences,exposition and professional meetings systems. Simultaneously, the course aims to establish alearning environment that better represents "the real working world" than might be seen in otherfirst-year classes. For some, this is their first introduction to the concept of adjusting oneself to astandard rather than expecting the environment to "part and make way" for the individual. Thisincludes more disciplined, more clearly defined, and perhaps more rigid expectations ofassignment due dates and times, while simultaneously providing the motivation and justificationfor the student to aspire to such standards. Results are presented both from instructor observations and from surveys conductedduring the first two years of implementation with results showing student interest level inengineering in general and specifically with the classroom and laboratory activities.

French, J. J., & Leiffer, P. R. (2012, June), The Genesis of Transformation: Preventing “Failure to Launch” Syndrome in Generation iY First-year Engineering Students Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22059

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