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Working With And Mentoring Graduate Student Instructors In First Year Engineering Courses

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Been There, Done That: Advice for New Faculty

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1384.1 - 15.1384.14



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Paper Authors

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Melissa Roberts Michigan Technological University

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Amber Kemppainen Michigan Technological University

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Gretchen Hein Michigan Technological University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Working with and Mentoring Graduate Student Instructors in First-year Engineering Courses


Michigan Tech University has a history of teaching first-year engineering courses. Annually, approximately 900 first-year engineering students learn basic engineering skills and concepts in the first-year engineering program. The program offers a two course sequence (ENG1101, Engineering Analysis and Problem Solving, followed by ENG1102, Engineering Modeling and Design) for students who are ready to take Calculus. For students taking Pre-Calculus, a three course sequence has been implemented (ENG1001, Engineering Problem Solving, ENG1100, Engineering Analysis, followed by ENG1102).

Each fall, approximately 13 sections of ENG1101, 5 sections of ENG1001 and 5 sections of ENG1102 are taught in addition to several service courses. With this quantity of courses and sections, the department occasionally seeks part-time faculty to fill the instructional load. While some of the positions are filled with engineers within the community who have advanced engineering degrees, others are filled by graduate students interested in teaching college-level courses. This paper will focus on the latter case where graduate students are mentored by departmental faculty to learn teaching skills and to implement change within the department.

The mentoring program at our university is informal and involves pairing a graduate student with a faculty member who is teaching the same course. The faculty and graduate student work closely together to develop learning materials, design exercises, and exams. Typically, the graduate student offers new ideas and learning exercises for the classroom that add new energy to the course. The faculty member provides guidance regarding the design of exam materials and what works well in the classroom.


Michigan Tech University’s first-year engineering program began in the fall of 2000. Within this program, entering students learn basic engineering and technical skills that are applicable to their engineering and professional careers. Through the completion of the first-year engineering courses, students gain, develop and improve their skills in: • Teamwork • Written and oral technical communication • Problem solving • Engineering design • Engineering modeling (numerical, graphical, 3-D) • Engineering analysis (data collection, analysis, description) • Computer software • Interpersonal communication • Basic university skills

Roberts, M., & Kemppainen, A., & Hein, G. (2010, June), Working With And Mentoring Graduate Student Instructors In First Year Engineering Courses Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15978

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