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Work in Progress - the Undergraduate Perspective: How to Survive an Undergraduate Engineering Program

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Student Division Technical Session 1

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Paper Authors


Bryon Kucharski Wentworth Institute of Technology

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Bryon Kucharski is an undergraduate Computer Engineering student from Wentworth Institute of Technology who will graduate in August of 2018. After the completion of his undergraduate degree, Bryon will attend the University of Massachusetts Amherst to pursue a Master's in Computer Science where he plans to focus on Artificial Intelligence.

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Aaron Carpenter Wentworth Institute of Technology

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Professor Carpenter is an Assistant Professor at the Wentworth Institute of Technology. In 2012, he completed his PhD at the University of Rochester. He now focuses his efforts to further the areas of computer architecture, digital systems, cybersecurity, and computer engineering education.

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Joan Giblin Wentworth Institute of Technology


Mehmet Ergezer Wentworth Institute of Technology

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Mehmet Ergezer (S'06) received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical and computer engineering from Youngstown State University, Youngstown, OH, USA, in 2003 and 2006, respectively. He received the D.Eng. degree in artificial intelligence from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH, USA, in May 2014.

From 2003 to 2005, following his internship with U.S. Steel, he was a Graduate Assistant with Youngstown State University. In 2006, he was a Research Assistant with the Embedded Control Systems Research Laboratory, Cleveland State University, engaged in heuristic numerical optimization techniques. In 2008, he interned with the Digital Engineering Team, Philips Healthcare. In 2011, he worked on the the development of tracking algorithms for civilian aircraft as a Staff Engineer for ARCON in Waltham, MA, USA. In 2014, Dr. Ergezer joined the Research and Advanced Development signal processing team for Bose Corp. In 2017, he became an Assistant Professor for the Department of Computer Science and Networking at Wentworth Institute of Technology.

Dr. Ergezer is a member of ACM and Eta Kappa Nu.

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Student retention across engineering programs often hinges upon students' ability to adapt to a new academic paradigm, for example, learning new study techniques, new academic habits, and of course new concepts. These techniques develop from various sources, including self-taught trial and error, advice from friends, and directives from faculty. Unfortunately, if students do not eventually find successful tactics, they struggle and are dissatisfied with their experience or leave without having completed the program. While faculty members, tutors, mentors, advisors, and more are a valid source of advice, students are more likely to make progress among peers.

Meanwhile, recent graduates and current junior/senior students often have a wealth of information regarding successful (and unsuccessful) study habits and other academic skills gained through experience. These are often passed down orally through classes and peer groups, while published strategies tend to be from faculty or administrative perspectives. The work presented here codifies the successful and unsuccessful strategies that students across numerous technical disciplines and from different backgrounds have used through their academic careers. The advice given is from a range of students at Wentworth Institute of Technology with a number of engineering and technical programs, gathered and analyzed by a team consisting of students, faculty, and administrators. The work serves as a guidebook for students, by students, in a range of rigorous programs.

A survey was distributed to recent graduates and upper-level students from various engineering and science backgrounds, intended to capture the realities of student habits, not just intention or knowledge of the ``right answer.'' The surveys were then analyzed and correlated to determine what strategies students agreed were successful, whether they determined the strategies' merits prior to graduation or only in retrospect. The goal is that universities and engineering programs can share these strategies with their incoming or retained students or develop similar survey studies based on their own student body, helping students succeed in their respective programs and increase retention regardless of student background. Finally, a study guide is presented, growing from the survey results and molded by undergraduate students and the investigative team.

Kucharski, B., & Carpenter, A., & Giblin, J., & Ergezer, M. (2018, June), Work in Progress - the Undergraduate Perspective: How to Survive an Undergraduate Engineering Program Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31261

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2018 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015