Work in progress: The construction of a new first-year engineering program

George D. Ricco, Janet K. Lumpp

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Background This paper describes the first steps in building, observing, and evaluating a new first-year engineering (FYE) program at a flagship R1 university. We start from the beginning, with a brief history of the program, and move into the construction of it as it exists today. We feel there are two items in particular that are of significant interest to the greater community. First there are unique problems that arise when the program is constructed (and expanded into satellite campuses). How to address these issues is of fundamental importance to any emergent FYE program. Also, the nature of flexibility among instructors is a topic frequently ignored by FYE programs and not significantly addressed in the literature-a topic among our program colloquially referred to as "going rogue." Within our program, we allow significant deviation to incorporate individual teaching styles while still requiring a core set of exercises to be accomplished by every course section. Starting in 2013, the Dean and Associate Dean for Academics in the College of Engineering visited established FYE programs and began planning implementation of a program suited to our own college. Improving student retention was the primary goal and the secondary goal was to reduce changes of major within the college to help students choose an appropriate major and pursue it to graduation. This phenomenon is not endemic to our program and has been documented by others (Froyd & Ohland, 2005) Initial discussions with a working group explored what course changes would be necessary to develop an introductory curriculum acceptable to all nine degree programs. In 2015, a director was appointed from within the college with 50% effort assigned to administering the program. With the help of department representatives, a three-course sequence was envisioned to replace the discipline specific "101" courses, either of two computer programming courses and the general education requirement for Inquiry into Arts & Creativity. All students must be in pre-calculus or beyond to be admitted to the college. The balance of credit hours and course enrollments over the first two semesters requires that some students take chemistry first and others take physics first with or without the labs. The course outlines were approved and all of the degree program curricula were changed in one combined proposal.

Original languageEnglish
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 24 2017
Event124th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Columbus, United States
Duration: Jun 25 2017Jun 28 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© American Society for Engineering Education, 2017.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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