Increasing Freshman Contact With Engineers – A Revamp Of Engr101, Tulane's Freshman Intro To Engineering Course
2004 Annual Conference Proceedings
In prior years, an entering freshman wanting to pursue a career in engineering could not either refute or verify that decision based on anything other than entry-level math and science classes until well after his first year of study. At Tulane, a third of the freshmen initially enrolling in the School of Engineering decided to pursue other majors by the end of their freshman year. For the 2003-04 academic year, a new approach was taken for ENGR101, Tulane's Introduction to Engineering freshman
... ngineering freshman course. The traditional one-hour weekly lecture format was changed, adding three departmental seminars with simultaneous sessions on topics of each department's choosing, guest speakers on topics of interest, and active learning modules as possible. Three additional elements were added as outside-the-classroom activities: mini-lab sessions conducted primarily by graduate students, lunch appointments with faculty members, and off-site visits with local engineering alumni. Although Tulane's entering freshman engineering class is not large by some university standards, managing multiple activities for 220 students was not an easy task. A course website was created by the Tulane Innovative Learning Center specifically for use in this course, managing student sign-ups and scheduling for all outside-the-classroom activities. Course funding was obtained through the Tulane Interdisciplinary Experiences (TIDES) program, designed specifically for entering freshmen but primarily organized through the liberal arts and sciences until this year. This funding vehicle allowed an increase in staffing for the course and underwrote the outside-the-classroom activities. An interesting side effect of joining in the TIDES program was that twelve non-engineering majors registered for the class; we are watching to see if they stay in engineering. Changing so many class elements at once proved a logistical challenge, but it was accomplished with minor downscaling from initial plans. Student satisfaction with the course was increased, and retention numbers will be compared as they come available.