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Work in Progress: Transitioning to Two Semesters: The Development of a Full-Year Cornerstone

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

First-Year Programs: Cornucopia #2

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Uma Lakshman NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering

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Uma Lakshman is a rising fourth-year undergraduate student at NYU Tandon studying Civil Engineering with a minor in Urban Informatics. She is the Head Teaching Assistant of the Introduction to Engineering and Design Course at NYU Tandon, and manages the 115 Teaching Assistants of the course. She has previously worked at AECOM as a Civil Engineering and Highway Design Intern. She has worked on projects such as the Nassau Expressway Reconstruction and the FDR Median Barrier Change. She currently is the Vice President of her school’s chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers and oversees the Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge competition teams. She will be the president of the chapter next year.

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Jack Bringardner NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering Orcid 16x16

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Jack Bringardner is the Assistant Dean for Academic and Curricular Affairs at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. He is also an Assistant Professor in the General Engineering Department and Civil Engineering Department where he teaches the First-Year Engineering Program course Introduction to Engineering and Design. He is the Director of Vertically Integrated Projects at NYU. His Vertically Integrated Projects course is on Smart Cities Technology with a focus on transportation. His primary focus is developing curriculum, mentoring students, and engineering education research, particularly for project-based curriculum, first-year engineering, and transportation. He is active in the American Society for Engineering Education and is the Webmaster for the ASEE First-Year Programs Division and the First-Year Engineering Experience Conference. He is affiliated with the Transportation Engineering program in the NYU Civil and Urban Engineering Department. He is the advisor for NYU student chapter of the Institute for Transportation Engineers.

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This evidence-based practice paper describes the plans for the development of a large private institution’s one-semester introductory engineering course to a full-year cornerstone. Several universities have implemented a two-semester cornerstone model. This paper builds on the past research in making this transition, and surveys students to determine their motivations. The year-long course will be centered around their goals. This study addresses the components students enjoy in the one-semester cornerstone, what gaps they would like to fill in a second semester, and their expectations for the first year in the college of engineering. An existing introduction to engineering major course would be electively replaced by a pilot section of students in the project-based second semester course. The curriculum in the second semester cornerstone should contain the content from the intro to major course, transition students between the first year and the rest of their coursework, and provide additional support for major selection. In the development of this course, the survey answers the research question of whether or not students would electively enroll in a year-long cornerstone. From a grant provided in 1993 by the National Science Foundation, a large private university’s introduction to engineering and design course covers the engineering disciplines, design projects, and laboratory exercises. The introduction to engineering and design course is a project-based course with learning objectives on project management, teamwork, technical communication, engineering experiments, and design. 300 students per semester, or 82% of first-year students in the college of engineering enroll in the introduction to engineering course. The introduction to engineering course is one of the only project-based courses in this large private university. From the past years of course evaluation surveys, students find the course to be helpful when determining their major and interests. Students also comment that they would like to further develop the projects created in the one-semester course. To further develop skills of working in a team on a project, a second-semester supplementary course has been proposed. This course would be an optional replacement to an introduction to major course. The introduction to major courses at the large private university are the traditional lecture based format. The second semester would be based around a multidisciplinary semester long design project, with lectures and recitation focused on project development and project management skills. In order to develop curriculum, students that took the introduction to engineering in Fall 2019 were surveyed in order to determine what factors that motivate students should be considered when creating a second semester cornerstone course. Questions that were asked include: What value do you place on your first-year engineering experiences? What skills would you like to further develop through an additional semester? The 115 teaching assistants (TAs) of the introduction to engineering course were also surveyed. The introduction to engineering course has undergraduate TAs that span most majors at the college of engineering, including majors that are not required to take the introduction to engineering course. The TAs are second year, third year, and fourth-year students. TAs were asked the following questions about how the intro to engineering course affected their later classes: Would you have taken a second semester of the introduction to engineering course? How could the cornerstone experience connect to your courses better? The feedback obtained from first-year students and TAs in the survey provides insight on the desire for a second semester of the cornerstone course. Students at the large private university have anecdotally requested additional project-based courses and fewer lecture oriented classes. The year-long cornerstone course could prepare students for their design projects in the second and third year, capstone projects, and industry projects post graduation. This survey will be used to determine whether additional research is necessary on the implementation of the second semester cornerstone, and whether or not the pilot section would be electively taken by students.

Lakshman, U., & Bringardner, J. (2020, June), Work in Progress: Transitioning to Two Semesters: The Development of a Full-Year Cornerstone Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35696

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