The following articles all appeared in
the Spring, 1996 issue of Success 101.
This is the first issue of a new newsletter Success 101
for teachers of student success courses for engineering students.
The name of the newsletter was suggested by an article in the
September 1995 issue of the ASEE magazine PRISM titled
"From Sleep 101 to Success 101." The title tells it
The article goes on:
"In its most dreaded form, this
crucial introduction to the engineering major has relegated
freshmen to a seat in row ZZZ of a cavernous lecture hall
where they quickly perfected the skill of dozing with both
eyes open while a series of department chairpersons earnestly
extolled the merits of their particular disciplines."
It is no wonder that many engineering programs abandoned these
courses. Faculty dont want to teach them. Students complain
about them. And they accomplish very little.
Fortunately, as many engineering programs are revamping their
freshman year curriculum, they are reexamining their Introduction
to Engineering course and many are transforming the course
into a powerful tool for boosting student success.
This newsletter, which will be published twice annually, will
provide a forum for those teachers of Introduction to
Engineering courses to both learn and share their successes
with others. In this spirit, we will be constantly soliciting
articles, particularly "How to" articles that delinate
specific strategies for accomplishing the behavioral and
attitudinal objectives outlined in the section of this newsletter
titled "Course Objectives: Enhancing Student
Come visit us (Ray Landis and Marty Roden) at the Discovery
Press booth (#117) in the Exhibit Hall at the ASEE Annual
Conference, June 23-26, 1996 at the Sheraton Washington Hotel in
Washington, D.C. We would be pleased to talk with you about any
issues related to teaching Introduction to Engineering
(Note: This section was excerpted from Landis,
R., "Building Student Commitment to Engineering,:"
Proceedings of 1996 ASEE Annual Conference, Washington, D.C.
Students should also learn about the various industry sectors
and how they utilize engineers. Again the goal should be to
strengthen students commitment by making them aware of.the enormous variety of opportunities that
One way to accomplish this is by exposing students to the
Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes of the Federal
government (Standard Industrial Classification
Manual, Office of Management and Budget, Washington DC,
Under SIC, there are ninty-nine, two-digit SIC codes
indicating major industry groups. For example, Major Group 38 is
"Measuring, Analyzing, and Controlling Instruments;
Photo-graphic, Medical and Optical Goods; Watches and
Clocks." Within Major Group 38, there are six industry
subgroups, each having a three digit SIC code. For example,
Industry Group No. 384 is "Surgical, Medical, and Dental
Instruments and Supplies." And within Industry Group No. 384
there are five industries, each having a four digit SIC code. For
example, Industry No. 3845 is "Electromedical and
Electrotherapeutic Apparatus." Within Industry No. 3845,
there is a long list of apparatus, each representing a collection
of companies, most of which would use engineers.
One way to bring the vast range of opportunities to the
attention of students is to have them choose one such product
(e.g., lithotripters) and research what companies are involved in
the manufacture of this product and how they use engineers in
their organization. Firsthand knowledge of how much activity
there is in just one of literally tens of thousands of product
areas can be very motivational to students. And they may very
well develop an interest in an area which could lead them to a
future employment opportunity.
NSF-SPONSORED CHAUTAUQUA SHORT COURSE
Sixty-five eager participants (see photo below) attended the
first offering of a new NSF-sponsored Chautauqua three-day short
course "Enhancing Student Success Through a Model
Introduction to Engineering Course" March 21-23, 1996 in Los
The purpose of the course was to train participants in the
delivery of an Introduction to Engineering course having
primarily a "student develop-ment" focus. The course
addressed both the content and pedagogy needed to bring about
significant attitudinal and behavioral changes on the part of
freshman engineering students.
The course will be offered twice during 1997: again in March
in Los Angeles; and in April, 1997 at a location in the
My anecdotal study of engineering freshmen indicates that only
10% study with other students on a regular basis. Ninty percent
do virtually all of their studying alone. Check it out with your
One step in bringing about more collaborative learning and
group study on the part of your students is to give them an
experiential lesson on some of the benefits.
Pick a logic problem from one of the crossword puzzle books
available at any newstand (You know, the ones that give clues
like "Ms. Smith is not the baker."). Divide your class
in half. Have one half of the class divide into groups of four or
five and work on the problem for forty-five minutes as a group.
Assign each student in the other half of the class the task of
solving the problem by working alone.
Youre likely to find that the students working alone get
restless after ten minutes; whereas when you call time after
forty-five minutes, the students working in groups ask for more
time. At the next class meeting ask students whether they
continued working on the problem since the exercise. Have a class
discussion which uncovers the differences between those who
worked in groups and those who worked alone.
Strong peer support can be a key to success in engineering
study. The benefits of sharing information, group study, and
integration of ones academic life and social life are
enormous. Consequently, building your students into a learning
community will benefit them more than perhaps any other thing you
The first step in building a learning community is helping
students get to know one another as a minimum by name. Set as a
goal that each student in your class can call the first and last
name of every other student in the class without hesitation. This
can be accomplished by devoting a few minutes in each class
period to "The Name Game."
Form students randomly into groups of six or seven. In their
groups, the first student introduces himself or herself (first
and last name); the second student introduces the first student
and then himself or herself; the third student introduces the
first two students and then himself or herself. Continue until
each student can introduce all students in the group (generally
takes about five minutes).
Mix groups each class period. Repeat exercise until every
student in the class can introduce every other student (generally
five or six class periods for a class of 30). You should sit in
on the groups during the exercise. In this way, you can learn the
names of the students in your class.
Other attributes can be added such as major, hometown,
favorite hobby, etc. For example, first student gives name,
major, hometown, and favorite hobby. Second students gives all of
the attributes of the first student and then his or hers. And so
ENHANCING STUDENT SUCCESS
"Enhancing student success" means changing student
attitudes and changing student behaviors. An effective
"student success" course focuses on bringing about
behavioral and attitudinal changes in areas related to five key
In order for you to personally assess the potential benefit of
a "student success" course, you are encouraged to
consider the behavioral and attitudinal objectives listed below
from three perspectives:
Would students be more successful if they held these
attitudes and practiced these behaviors?
Do your students currently hold these attitudes and
practice these behaviors?
If your answer to #1 is "Yes" and your answer to
#2 is "No," do you believe that it would be
possible to achieve the objectives listed below?
1. COMMUNITY BUILDING
Students in the "Introduction to Engineering"
course make up a supportive learning community.
student in the class knows every other student in the class.
Group building¾ Students
have a strong sense of group and are committed to a high level of
Human relations training¾
Students have the interpersonal skills necessary to interact
with each other in a positive and effective manner.
2. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Students are motivated by a clear under-standing of
engineering as a profession. Students conduct themselves
ethically and in a professional manner at all times.
are highly motivated through a clear understanding of the rewards
and opportunities success in engineering study will bring to
Understanding of engineering¾
Students can give an articulate response to the question
"What is engineering?" Students are aware of the
various academic disciplines and job functions of engineering.
Students are aware of the various industry sectors (e.g.,
computer, aerospace, electronic, utility, oil, large
constructors, etc.) and of how engineers are utilized in each of
Professional student organizations¾
Students recognize the value of actively participating in
student organizations, particularly those related to their chosen
profession (ASME, ASCE, IEEE, etc.) and seek to take on
leadership roles in those organizations.
Ethics and professionalism¾
Students are aware of good ethical and professional practice
and engage in such practice at all times.
3. ACADEMIC DEVELOPMENT
Students know about and put into practice positive
attitudes and productive behaviors that will result in academic
Interaction with faculty¾
Students interact regularly with their professors both in the
classroom and outside of it, positively and with benefit.
Interaction with peers¾
Students make effective use of their peers by frequent
sharing of information and by regularly engaging in group study
and collaborative learning.
Students are aware of and make optimal use of campus
resources (e.g., writing center, counseling center, health
center, library, placement center, etc.).
Time on task¾ Students
manage their time so as to devote an appropriate amount of time
and effort to studying and are operating under the principle that
they master the material covered in each class period before the
next class period comes.
Time on campus¾ Students
are aware of the importance of being immersed in the academic
environment so that they can take full advantage of the resources
available to them, and therefore spend as much time on campus as
Other study skills¾
Students are aware of and practice good study skills in other
areas (e.g., note taking, test taking, etc.).
4. PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT
Students have a good understanding of and feel good
about themselves and their educational experience. Students
interact well with and respect others, engage in good health and
wellness practices, and effectively manage the various aspects of
their personal life.
Understanding of self¾
Students' personality traits, learning styles and brain
dominance have been assessed using standard instruments, and they
have a strong understanding of themselves as unique individuals.
Self-confidence and self-esteem¾
Students feel good about themselves and their situation, and
are confident in their ability to succeed academically.
have clear goals and have a plan for their personal development
based on a self-assessment of their strengths and weaknesses.
Wellness and stress management¾
Students engage in good health and wellness practices and
know how to manage stress through stress-reduction methods.
Respect for and interaction with others¾ Students value and respect
differences in people and interact effectively with people of all
cultures, ethnicities and genders.
Management of personal life¾
Students are effective in managing the various aspects of
their personal life, including interaction with family and
friends, personal finances, work load, etc.
Students understand how the engineering college and the
university work and how best to take advantage of the resources
available to them.
College of engineering¾
Students understand the organizational structure, facilities,
resources and regulations of the college of engineering and make
effective use of them.
understand the organizational structure, facilities, resources
and regulations of the university and make effective use of them.
Guiding students through the process of changing their
behaviors from non-productive behaviors that keep
them from accomplishing their goal of success in engineering
study to productive behaviors that lead to success is a
Taking students through these three steps can be illustrated
using one of the behavioral objectives listed in the article on Enhancing
Student Success, e.g. #3a.
Students interact regularly with their
professors both in the classroom and outside of it,
positively and with benefit.
A baseline can be established by asking students (either
through class discussion or survey instrument) to what extent
they make use of their professors outside of the classroom. If
students are judged to be deficient in this key success strategy,
by taking students through the three steps as follows.
Knowledge. Section 3.5 titled "Making
Effective Use of Your Professors" in the text Studying
Engineering provides a strong knowledge base with regard to
what value professors can be to students and how students can go
about winning over their professors. An assignment to read this
section followed by an in class discussion of the ideas presented
should provide a sufficient knowlege base to students.
Commitment. For some students, the new knowledge
will be sufficient to build commitment to making change. For
others, it may be necessary to examine their reasons for not
making use of their professors outside the classroom. Structuring
their interaction by helping them in developing a series of
questions designed to "win over" their professors
should reduce any resistance they have. Ultimately, students can
be asked to make a commitment to going to see one of their key
professors during his/her office hours.
Implementation. Students can then be assigned
the task of implementing the behavior (e.g. Go see one of your
professors during his/her office hours and ask the following
questions). It is important to provide students the opportunity
to process what happens both through introspection (write a
one-page critique on what happened) and also by in-class
discussion. Through in-class discussion, students can learn from
each other and commitment can grow from hearing that others have
found the behaviors to be beneficial. Ultimately, good behaviors
will become "habit forming."
The following is a summary of some of the resources available
to support the teaching of an Introduction to Engineering course
having a "student development" focus.
Landis, R. B., Studying Engineering: A Road Map to a
Rewarding Career, Discovery Press (Available through Legal
Books Distributing, 4247 Whiteside Street, Los Angeles, CA 90063,
Telephone 213-526-7110, $22.95 retail/$17.22 wholesale+ shipping)
Landis, R. B.,"Improving Student Success Through a Model
Introduction to Engineering Course," A Dissemination
Document for a National Science Foundation Project, November,
1995. (Available from the author).
70-minute videotape of December 5, 1995 Engineering Faculty
Forum "Enhancing Student Success Through a Model
Introduction to Engineering Course," (Copy of original
broadcast available from NTU, Fort Collins, Colorado; Copy of
edited version available from R. B. Landis)
"Landis, Raymond B., "Building Student Commitment to
Engineering." Proceedings of 1996 ASEE Annual Conference,
Washington, D.C. June, 1996.
AN INTRODUCTION TO ENGINEERING COURSE
FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
by Jo-An Panzardi, Cabrillo
[ed note: This article
describes an experimental course presented by Cabrillo College.]
Why is this course needed for
high school students?
When I was a high school student,
I decided to go into engineering because I did well at math and
science. I did not know a thing about engineering until I started
working part-time for an engineering consulting firm when I was
in college. It is important to increase the awareness of
engineering before students begin their college career in
When students learn more about
engineering and become excited about a career in engineering,
they are more apt to work harder in school since their future is
clearer. It is important for students to develop better study
skills to succeed in engineering.
How did I get the idea to run
this high school Introduction to Engineering course at Cabrillo
When Mr. Andrew McFarlin was an
Engineering Instructor at Evergreen Valley College, he was part
of the industry advisory board for the local high school, Yerba
Buena High School (YBHS). With the help of the industry advisory
board and funding from the government, YBHS was able to set up an
Engineering Magnet Program, four-year program to get high school
students prepared for a career in engineering. Mr. McFarlin, in
turn, set up a plan to teach the Introduction to Engineering
course to the present seniors at YBHS. I became Andrew=s
successor at Evergreen Valley College and taught the first such
course at YBHS.
Introduction to Engineering
course at Cabrillo College:
Presently, I am the Engineering
Instructor at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California. I decided
that offering a similar course at Cabrillo College for local high
school students would be a great idea. I believed that offering
in a college setting would be far better than offering it at the
high school as I did at YBHS. There is less likely to be
discipline problems in a college setting. Which turned out to be
The course is a two-credit class,
offered 4 - 6:00 pm every Monday. I felt that offering it only
one day a week would pose fewer conflicts for athletes and other
students involved in extra-curricular activities.
How did I advertise the
I advertised the course by
contacting the high school principals, guidance/career counselors
and the math, chemistry and physics teachers. I also placed
information about the course in the high school Abulletin@
which gets read to the students every morning during Ahomeroom@
and also gets mail home to the parents. Letters to the math,
chemistry and physics teachers was the least productive.
The course material is a 200-page
handout packet that I have put together over the years and
Raymond Landis book Studying Engineering. Students
continue to comment on how much Landis's
book is helping them.
Topics covered in class
The course covers all the topics
below. The purpose of the course is to make sure that the
students fully understand what engineering is all about and, at
the same time, develop good study habits
Various Branches of
Engineering & Functions of an Engineer
VCR films on
Innovative Engineering Careers
References: Technical Books, Magazines & Journals
Minorities and Engineering
Resume Writing (w/
Availability (newspaper classified)
Co-ops & Summer Jobs, Shadowing
Introductions & Mock Interviews
Addresses, Employers, Contacts
Engineer & Licensing Procedures
(w/ VCR film)
Failures: VCR film
Universities Ratings & Accreditation
Process (w/ VCR film)
Videos on 4-year
Universities/Colleges Engineering Programs
for College & Scholarship Applications
Skills --- Studying to be an Engineer
Requirements --- AA degree/transfer
Process (w/ VCR film)
Engineering Facilities and Museums
Technical Society Reps, University Students
[ed note: A copy
of the detailed course outline used in Spring, 1996, is
available. Send a note to us at the address given on page 1].
note: Prof. Panzardi conducted an evaluation of the text, Studying
Engineering. Following are assorted quotes from the
high school students in the class. They are presented without
editorial comment so the reader can form an individual
"It made me realize what was necessary to
really succeed in life. Basically, it showed me that just because
you can scrape by in high school doesn't mean you can in
"I found the
topics about better study skills to be helpful in making me see
what I could do better."
discussion rarely accomplishes anything or stays on subject,
better stick to individual reading and supplement with class
I'd like to see
"a topic dedicated to learning on and using computers, the
It would help to
have "a class overview of the new upcoming material at the
end of each class, then individual reading of it, then a short
discussion dealing with questions of the material and then a
group discussion or project..."
"It gave me a
sense of career opportunities in engineering."
information on engineering competitions was great."
"I really liked
the part where the author explained how to become academically
"I would like
to see more information about salaries of engineers, acceptance
rate of engineering majors into graduate schools (medical
schools, law schools, etc.)."
be a section describing classes an engineering major would
some of the questions (like the week long study ones)."
I'd like more on
"salaries, what engineers might actually do on a typical
ENGINEERING AT BUCKNELL
by Trudy Cunningham, Bucknell University
Bucknell's introductory course for first semester students
meets seven hours a week. It has been described by one thoughtful
student as: "It's like sitting in a boat at the bottom of
Niagara Falls. It's wonderful, as long as you don't want me to
move the boat." The sixteen or so faculty who are involved
in presenting the course do not want the approximately 160
engineering and 50 non-engineering students to move the boat B yet. The idea is to try on
the trappings of chemical, electrical, mechanical computer and
civil engineering and see which, if any, is the best fit.
Given the number of people involved, Studying Engineering,
by Raymond B. Landis, was selected as a way to expose the
students to standard general information about the engineering
profession. For one hour during each of the first six weeks, the
text was used as a source of in class problems and situations, to
which students were asked to respond in writing in their
journals. Between sessions, which also included hands-on design
and consideration of the value and cost of working
collaboratively, short bits of concentrated reading and longer
sections of review reading were assigned.
To determine which sections and problems might prove most
effective, a faculty member and a rising sophomore who had
completed the course were commissioned to read the entire book
and make suggestions. When they disagreed, which was not often,
the student's choice was used. Several sections were not used
because both faculty and student felt that they were unneeded or
inappropriate at this juncture for most Bucknell students in the
Here was the schedule for Fall, 1995:
WEEK IN CLASS HOMEWORK
1 Page 19 problems 12-14 Read pp 65-66 and pp 78-84 carefully
Read pp 22-64 FYI
2 2nd group design project Read pp 96-97 carefully
Read pp 71-77 and pp 89-95 FYI
3 Read p33, part 9 p 20 problem 22
4 Read pp18-20 Read pp 166-180 and pp 193-194 carefully
Solve problems 9 and 18 Turn in HW
Read pp 180-194 FYI
5 Read pp 71-72 Read pp 41-66 carefully
Journal response: p 73 p 68 problem 9 modified
6 Journal response: p 69 p 69 problem 18
As is true in any interactive course, the schedule was not
followed exactly. The students seemed to enjoy and value the
exercises and most of the reading. Several reported reading
sections left unassigned to see why we had omitted them. Others
thought that parts of the book might be useful between now and
graduation and decided not to sell it back to the bookstore. It
is expected that next year's assignment list will be critically
revised by another rising sophomore. It will probably include
Section 4.6 on communications skills in an attempt to formalize
our discussion and give practice of the process of presenting
technical information to various audiences.
While it is true that we don't want the students to move the
boat in the first course, we do want them to be able to
communicate to themselves and others effective ways of
to Electrical Engineering
by Carmen S. Menoni, Assistant Professor,
Colorado State University
An early exposure to electrical engineering, building
confidence and increasing the success rate of electrical
engineering students was the motivation for introducing the class
"Introduction to Electrical Engineering" at Colorado
As in most schools across the country, our EE curriculum
concentrates in developing the math and physics skills of our
students during the first two years. These classes, which are
generally taught in large and unpersonalized classrooms, do not
allow the students to build up a sense of community and benefit
from the peer interaction, nor do they offer the possibility of
acquiring a broader picture of why they these basic skills.
In the class "Introduction to Electrical
Engineering", I teach the student what electrical
engineering is and the tools that are used by engineers. These
tools include the developing of analytical, hands on , computer,
communication and writing skills. Learning how to network among
peers and developing a relationship with professors are also
stressed as well. The class meets three times a week for 50min.
In addition the students participate in three field trips and two
The class starts by presenting our program, the faculty, and
by helping the students develop a sense of community. Thus,
during the first week we have our first field trip which is a
pizza party where the students meet their advisor, the faculty
and staff and have the opportunity to interact with their
classmates. This activity is the origin of a series of homeworks
which are designed to help students learn about electrical
engineering in general. Using the department homepage, the
students learn about their advisor's research area and classify
the EE faculty according to areas of expertise. Next year I plan
to add an interview with their advisor, which will then be
published and posted in the class homepage. The students also
explored the IEEE homepage and discuss what are the latest
developments in several areas of EE.
As part of the awareness about EE, I invite some faculty to
come and give presentations. This year one of these presentations
addressed what control engineers do, another was about
electromagnetic waves, a third discussed how a computer works and
I gave a talk on lasers and applications. The other two field
trips, complement these presentations and consisted of visiting
the Chill Radar Facility and the Laser Spectroscopy and Laser
Analytical skills are developed by solving problems in simple
subjects like resistive circuits, dc and ac signals. I also
introduce students to electronics components and highlight the
importance of modern developments in this area. These topics
constitute the subject of the two laboratory assignments, which
are also designed to expose students to the use of simple
measuring instruments like a MultiMate and an oscilloscope, and
to measuring techniques. In one of these laboratory assignments
the students assemble a resistive circuit in a protoboard by
soldering the elements. In this circuit, voltages across
resistors and current in certain branches are measured and
compared with their calculations. In a second part, students are
given a mystery circuit which also incorporates switches and a
lightbulb and they have to figure out why under certain
conditions the lightbulb turns on or not. Certainly the students
will have numerous opportunities to do these types of
measurements, and thus my goal in the laboratory sessions is that
they will learn how to look for simple solutions and seek help
when they need it. These types of activities in a non-competitive
atmosphere helps them gain confidence.
In the second laboratory, I combine measurement techniques
with simulations using MATLAB. At this point the students have
been introduced to basic operations and plotting techniques with
MATLAB, so they can generate with the computer the ac signals
they measure with the oscilloscope. For both these labs the
students need to turn in a written report. The labs are conducted
in teams of 3 or 4 students and the grade they obtain is a group
grade. Next year we plan to incorporate an additional laboratory
in which students will design a simple control loop to operate an
invention of their own which will incorporate a motor, and
A description of the course syllabus, the homework assignments
and labs can be obtained from the class homepage (http://
www.lance.colostate.edu/ depts/ee/ungrad.html). Since there is no
single textbook available for this class, I use during the first
part Dr. Landis book [Studying Engineering, Discovery
Press, 1995] and when we start discussing signals and the use of
MATLAB, I provide them with handouts that I have specifically
prepared for the class.