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The following articles all appeared in the Spring, 1996 issue of Success 101.


Author's Corner

ASEE Exhibit

Professional Development: INDUSTRY PRACTICE


Academic Development: MOTIVATING GROUP STUDY

Community Building: THE NAME GAME


EXPLORING ENGINEERING AT BUCKNELL by Trudy Cunningham, Bucknell University

INTRODUCTION TO ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING, by Carmen S. Menoni, Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering, Colorado State University


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 all.

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 Success."


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 courses.



(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 exist.

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, 1987).

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.


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 Angeles.

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 Southeast.



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 students.

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 can do.

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 forth.



"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 themes:

Community building

Professional development

Academic development

Personal development


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?


Students in the "Introduction to Engineering" course make up a supportive learning community.

Socialization Each student in the class knows every other student in the class.

Group building Students have a strong sense of group and are committed to a high level of mutual support.

Human relations training Students have the interpersonal skills necessary to interact with each other in a positive and effective manner.


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.

Motivation Students are highly motivated through a clear understanding of the rewards and opportunities success in engineering study will bring to their lives.

Understanding of engineering 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.

Industry practice 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 these sectors.

Professional student organizations 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 professionalism Students are aware of good ethical and professional practice and engage in such practice at all times.


Students know about and put into practice positive attitudes and productive behaviors that will result in academic success.

Interaction with faculty Students interact regularly with their professors both in the classroom and outside of it, positively and with benefit.

Interaction with peers Students make effective use of their peers by frequent sharing of information and by regularly engaging in group study and collaborative learning.

Campus resources 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 task 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 campus 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 possible.

Other study skills Students are aware of and practice good study skills in other areas (e.g., note taking, test taking, etc.).


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 self 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-esteem Students feel good about themselves and their situation, and are confident in their ability to succeed academically.

Self-assessment Students have clear goals and have a plan for their personal development based on a self-assessment of their strengths and weaknesses.

Wellness and stress management Students engage in good health and wellness practices and know how to manage stress through stress-reduction methods.

Respect for and interaction with others Students value and respect differences in people and interact effectively with people of all cultures, ethnicities and genders.

Management of personal life 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 engineering Students understand the organizational structure, facilities, resources and regulations of the college of engineering and make effective use of them.

University Students 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 three-step process:




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.



by Jo-An Panzardi, Cabrillo College

[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 engineering.

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 College?

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 true.

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 course?

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.

Course Material

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

Engineering Societies/Memberships

Engineering References: Technical Books, Magazines & Journals

Statistics on Engineering Salaries

Statistics on Minorities and Engineering

Resume Writing (w/ VCR film)

Engineering Job Availability (newspaper classified)

Engineering Student Co-ops & Summer Jobs, Shadowing

Interviewing: Introductions & Mock Interviews

Application Info: Addresses, Employers, Contacts

Professional Engineer & Licensing Procedures

Engineering Ethics (w/ VCR film)

Engineering Failures: VCR film

Colleges and Universities Ratings & Accreditation

College Application Process (w/ VCR film)

Videos on 4-year Universities/Colleges Engineering Programs

Personal Statements for College & Scholarship Applications


Improving Study Skills --- Studying to be an Engineer

Engineering Course Requirements --- AA degree/transfer

Technology and Society

Engineering Design Process (w/ VCR film)

TOURS: Various Engineering Facilities and Museums

SPEAKERS: Engineers, 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].

EVALUATIONS: [ed 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 impression]

"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 life."

"I found the topics about better study skills to be helpful in making me see what I could do better."

"Group discussion rarely accomplishes anything or stays on subject, better stick to individual reading and supplement with class discussion."

I'd like to see "a topic dedicated to learning on and using computers, the internet specifically."

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."

"The information on engineering competitions was great."

"I really liked the part where the author explained how to become academically successful."

"I would like to see more information about salaries of engineers, acceptance rate of engineering majors into graduate schools (medical schools, law schools, etc.)."

"There should be a section describing classes an engineering major would take."

"I disliked some of the questions (like the week long study ones)."

I'd like more on "salaries, what engineers might actually do on a typical day."


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 course.

Here was the schedule for Fall, 1995:


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

Problem 17

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 Studying Engineering.

Introduction to Electrical Engineering

by Carmen S. Menoni, Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering

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 State University.

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 laboratory assignments.

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 Development Laboratory.

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 sensors.

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.



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