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WIP: Enhancing Freshman Seminars With Themes: An Architectural Engineering Approach

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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

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Ryan Solnosky P.E. Pennsylvania State University

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Ryan Solnosky is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of Architectural Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University at University Park. Dr. Solnosky has taught courses for Architectural Engineering, Civil Engineering, and Pre-Major Freshman in Engineering. He received his integrated Bachelor of Architectural Engineering/Master of Architectural Engineering (BAE/MAE), and PhD. degrees in architectural engineering from The Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Solnosky is also a licensed Professional Engineer in PA. Ryan's research interests include: integrated structural design methodologies and processes; Innovative methods for enhancing engineering education; and high performing wall enclosures. These three areas look towards the next generation of building engineering, including how systems are selected, configured and designed.

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M. Kevin Parfitt Pennsylvania State University

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M. Kevin Parfitt is an award winning teacher in the Department of Architectural Engineering at Penn State. He has over 38 years experience teaching courses ranging from Freshman Seminar to the 5th-Year Senior Thesis (Capstone experience). He is also the AE faculty coordinator for the annual AE Career Fair and student placement related activities. Creating a link between his courses and industry experts and mentors is one of his signature activities.

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Sez Atamturktur Ph.D. Pennsylvania State University

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Dr. Sez Atamturktur is the Harry and Arlene Schell Professor and Department Head of Architectural Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University. Previously, she served as Associate Vice President for Research Development and Provost’s Distinguished Professor at Clemson University. Dr. Atamturktur’s research, which focuses on uncertainty quantification in scientific computing, has been documented in over 100 peer-reviewed publications in some of the finest engineering science journals and proceedings. Dr. Atamturktur’s research has received funding from several federal agencies including the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Education, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, as well as industry organizations and partners, such as the National Masonry Concrete Association and Nucor. She served as the director of the National Science Foundation-funded Tigers ADVANCE project, which focuses on improving the status of women and minority faculty at Clemson. Previously, Dr. Atamturktur was the director of the National Science Foundation-funded National Research Traineeship project at Clemson, with funding for over 30 doctoral students and a goal of initiating a new degree program on scientific computing and data analytics for resilient infrastructure systems. In addition, Dr. Atamturktur was the director of two separate Department of Education-funded Graduate Assistantships in Areas of National Need projects that each provided funding for 10 doctoral students. Dr. Atamturktur served as one of the four co-directors of Clemson’s Center of Excellence in Next Generation Computing and Creativity. Prior to joining Clemson University, Dr. Atamturktur served as an LTV technical staff member at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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Moses Ling P.E. Pennsylvania State University

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This article presents the development, implementation, and early results of a revitalization effort for engineering first-year seminar (FYS) classes offered by the Architectural Engineering (AE) Department at The Pennsylvania State University. At our university, based on a faculty senate resolution, all students must take a 1-credit FYS in their first year. FYS courses at Penn State are intended to help students develop good study habits; introduce students to Penn State and their intended major of study; and help them develop relationships with faculty and other students, especially those in their freshman peer group. For the past decade, the AE department has offered two sections of FYS every Fall semester. This course offered a somewhat traditional passive classroom environment and was not always very successful in meeting our goals and assisting with student retention in the program. Topical content was very traditional and centered around very standard and generic lessons regarding what the AE profession does. Couse material was inconsistent and varied between sections based on the discipline of the course instructor. Instructors without industry experience or multidisciplinary backgrounds sometimes struggled to provide a comprehensive view of AE to the students, which resulted in widely varying student satisfaction ratings. In Fall 2019, the AE Department initiated an effort to revitalize the FYS course to be more current in its topical coverage, active and engaging in its content delivery while at the same time maintaining standard university educational goals and requirements for first year students. Further, this new initiative was formulated to ensure consistency of goals and objectives between various sections of the same course without necessarily providing an exact duplicate of content. In other words, basic requirements were specified to ensure students experienced a consistent educational outcome regardless of the course instructor, but each section or instructor was given freedom to introduce or host special topics or “mini-themes” to add interest, take advantage of current events or emerging industry topics and to better align with the instructor’s background and experience.

Solnosky, R., & Parfitt, M. K., & Atamturktur, S., & Ling, M. (2021, July), WIP: Enhancing Freshman Seminars With Themes: An Architectural Engineering Approach Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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