- Computer Science
- Geology & Geological
- Institute for Energy Studies
- Prospective Students
- Current Students
Motivation and Goals
A large percentage of the United States engineering workforce is moving towards retirement. Soon the demand for engineers will exceed supply. To avert a shortage of skilled engineers it is imperative that every incoming engineering student has the best possible opportunity to obtain a degree. Currently, 30% of students that enter engineering at the University of North Dakota leave in the first year. The attrition rate of incoming minority and female students can exceed 60%. To address these concerns this investigation will create a program that minimizes the mathematical deficiencies of students entering calculus and illustrates the importance of calculus as an engineering tool.
The objective of this research is to increase the retention of incoming engineering students, especially those who have had limited prior opportunities, and generate excitement about calculus among students. To accomplish this we propose the following:
Create a four week preparatory distance course for incoming students.Construct a set of modules with engineering problems for the Calculus I and Calculus II courses.Develop a mentoring program that will facilitate the use of engineering content in Calculus I and Calculus II.Provide a mechanism for students to receive interactive instructional feedback.
The intellectual merit of this work lies in its novel approach to preparing students for calculus and implementing a calculus succession augmented with engineering content. The addition of a distance preparatory course allows students, regardless of past opportunities, to enter the engineering program with the required mathematical background. Moreover, the investigation will deliver a set of modules that illustrate the importance of freshman calculus concepts using real world engineering problems. Integrating engineering into calculus is shown to increase student success, but despite an abundance of evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of such a course adoption is limited to a small number of schools. This investigation will create a method to eliminate the chief hurdle to widespread adoption –who is responsibility for a course with content from multiple departments – through the use of engineering mentors. The presented program will be created by a multidiscipline, multiethnic and multi-gender team consisting of fourUniversity ofNorth Dakota assistant/associate professors who are engaged in the education of engineering students.
The proposed research is aimed at fundamentally changing the attitude of universities to incoming engineering students and engineering mathematics. The distance preparatory course is intended to be a national example demonstrating how the disparity in incoming student's mathematical background can be minimized. The distance preparatory course, the modules and an outline of the mentoring program will be made freely available. Every effort will be made to ensure widespread adoption of the program similar to that enjoyed by the material science modules Dr. Neubert was involved in creating as a GK-12 fellow. This includes presenting the program to high school calculus teachers and regional universities. The results of the work will also be disseminated through the American Society of Engineering Educators (ASEE) Annual Conference, the IEEE Transactions on Education, and the ASEE Journal of Engineering Education.
Integration of Diversity
Retention rates of minority students can be less than half that of other students. The introduction of this program will address several of the issues that make engineering unpalatable for underrepresented students. This includes the cessation of penalizing students that did not have the advantages of others by offering a four week distance course to help prepare them for engineering. In addition, a diverse group of mentors will be used to help eliminate the isolation that such students often feel when they enter engineering.