Dr. Nick Eror
University of Pittsburgh
Telephone: (412) 624-9761
Fax: (412) 624-8069
New Book from Discovery Press
(Available Fall, 1998)
Studying Engineering Technology
by Dr. Steven R. Cheshier
Discovery Press is proud to announce the publication of a new book, Studying Engineering Technology by Dr. Steven R. Cheshier. The book is being adapted from Studying Engineering by Ray Landis and will be available for adoption for Fall, 1998. The book is designed for use in Introduction to Engineering Technology courses at both the Associate Degree and Bachelors Degree levels.
Organized into eight Chapterers, this pioneering book will support engineering technology departments across the nation in improving the academic performance and retention of their students. The eight Chapterers are:
Chapter 1. Introduction to Engineering Technology
Chapter 2 . The Technological Spectrum/The Industrial Environment
Chapter 3. Academic Success Strategies
Chapter 4. Orientation to the Engineering Technology Education System
Chapter 5. Becoming an Engineering Technician (2-yr programs) or an Engineering Technologist (4-yr programs)
Chapter 6. Enhancing and Broadening Your Education
Chapter 7. Developing Yourself Personally
Chapter 8. Preparing for Lifelong Learning
Dr. Steven R. Cheshier has an ideal background to author this text. His distinguished 35-year career in engineering technology includes 10 years on the faculty of Electrical Engineering Technology at Purdue University, serving six years as head of the department, and seventeen years as president of Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia. He is currently Institute Professor and President Emeritus of that institution. Dr. Cheshier has served as Chair of the Engineering Technology Council and as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). In 1980, he was the first recipient of the National Distinguished Service Award from Tau Alpha Pi, the Engineering Technology Honor Society, and he received the ASEE 1984 James H. McGraw Award as Engineering Technology Educator of the Year.
Wisdom Beyond Her Age
One of my greatest pleasures in traveling to universities around the country is the opportunity to meet "special" students. While at the University of Michigan in Spring 1996, I met a wonderful young woman named Christine Avila. Christine was president of the Society of Minority Engineering Students, an umbrella organization over all minority engineering student organizations at the University of Michigan. When I met her she was nearing graduation and Im sure she is now working successfully as a practicing engineer.
Christine was heavily into motivational quotes and shared some of her favorites with me both when I was visiting there and later by e-mail. She told me: "A lot of people dont realize that their thoughts, conscious or unconscious, affect all aspects of their lives. They dont realize that they have to control their thoughts in order to control their actions." She asked me to share her quotes with others, so here are some of her best:
Many of lifes failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. - Thomas Edison
Its a funny thing about life: if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it. - W. Somerset Maugham
The ancestor of every action is a thought. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason why so few engage in it. - Henry Ford
If you do what youve always done, youll get what youve always gotten. - Anonymous
Man is not the creature of circumstances. Circumstances are the creatures of men. - Benjamin Disraeli
Good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees. - J. Willard Marriott
They can because they think they can. - Virgil
Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt. - William Shakespeare
Nothing has any power over me other than that which I give it through my conscious thought. - Anthony Robbins
The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heavn of Hell, a Hell of Heavn. - John Milton
Whatever kind of word thou speakest, the like shalt thou hear. - Greek Proverb
This is only a portion of the quotes Christine shared with me. And because she is guided by them, I am confident she will achieve great success. I would urge you to follow Christines wisdom. Share these quotes with your students. Have the students discuss the quotes and/or write about them.
Building Student Commitment to Engineering
(Note: This was excerpted from R. B. Landis, "Building Student Commitment to Engineering," Proceedings of 1996 ASEE Annual Conference, Washington, D.C.)
Active participation in engineering student organizations can contribute to building students commitment to engineering study. In fact, engineering student organizations are an effective vehicle for students to accomplish for themselves much of what you are trying to accomplish in your Introduction to Engineering course.
Typically, engineering student organizations provide benefits to their members in five areas:
Service to the college and the community.
Note, in fact, that this list is the same as the five key themes of [an Introduction to Engineering] course . . .
Discuss these benefits with your students. What could be better than having your students interact socially with other engineering students rather than with students from other majors or friends from high school? Through participation, students will gain a sense of community and of belonging that can be highly motivational.
Tell your students about the important skills they will develop through participation in engineering student organizations. Emphasize that the leadership, organizational, and interpersonal skills they will gain will be extremely important to their success as an engineering professional. And let them know that the professional development activities of an engineering student organization such as speakers, field trips to industry, and career day programs will complement what they are getting from your Introduction to Engineering course.
Make it easy for your students to join these organizations. Provide them with information about how to join and about upcoming meetings. You could even assign them the task of attending a meeting and writing a critique of what happened there. Invite leaders of these organizations to speak to the class to inform them about the activities of their organization. Make sure they emphasize why they got involved and what they get out of that involvement.
WHO NEEDS THESE HEADACHES? - REFLECTIONS ON TEACHING FIRST-YEAR ENGINEERING STUDENTS
by Richard M. Felder, North Carolina State University
In the period from Fall 1995 to Spring 1997, I coordinated and taught in an experimental freshman engineering curriculum called IMPEC (Integrated Mathematics, Physics, Engineering, and Chemistry Curriculum). One of my jobs was to teach a one-credit fall course designed to:
serve the traditional orientation functions of the freshman engineering course
provide real-world motivation and context for the science and mathematics fundamentals taught in the core freshman courses
provide training in critical success skills.
I started my teaching career in 1969 and by 1995 I thought I knew a few things about how to teach, but I found that teaching first-semester college students offered several new challenges. While I didnt exactly have to scrap the teaching principles and methods that had worked for me before, I had to add some new strategies to my bag of tricks. For what it may be worth, here are some of the things I wish I had known in August 1995. Some of them come from my own experience and many come from watching and conversing with my colleague Phil Dail, who taught the IMPEC chemistry course. Phil is a former North Carolina high school science teacher of the year who has also taught freshman chemistry to several thousand students and is my nominee for the best teacher of first-year college students I have ever seen or heard of.
Principle 1 - Entering first-semester college students were high school students three months earlier.
Many high school students are mature, thoughtful, and industrious, but those are probably not the first three adjectives that come to mind if you are trying to describe the species collectively. A sizable percentage of high school students lack the sound judgment, sense of responsibility, and work ethic needed to do well in a curriculum as demanding as engineering, and theyre not likely to magically acquire these things in the summer between high school and college. A great deal of the well-publicized first-year attrition from engineering undoubtedly stems from the assumption that freshmen should be capable of functioning like seniors from the word go. Thats a really bad assumption.
Principle 2 - Success skills have never been taught to most first-year students, but they (the skills and the students) are teachable.
This observation of course does not come as news to anyone familiar with the "gospel according to Landis." I knew enough of the gospel to know that Studying Engineering was the only text to use for the course I was about to teach, but theres nothing like first-hand experience to bring home the reality of something youve only read about. Why should we assume that we have to teach freshmen the product rule for differentiation or Kirchhoffs law but somehow they are perfectly capable of learning by themselves to manage ridiculous time demands or form themselves into high performance teams? Thats another terrible assumption. If we want our students to learn a complex procedure or master a complex skill, we need to provide them with some guidance.
Fortunately, all skillsincluding the ones we want our students to acquirecan be developed and improved through practice and feedback. If we want students to differentiate complex trigonometric functions, for example, we outline how it is done, give them examples, give them practice problems, correct and grade their efforts, give them more practice problems, and finally test them on their ability to solve similar problems. Not surprisingly, most of them end up knowing how to do it. If we did the same thing to facilitate the development of study, communication, teamwork, or time management skills, the result would be identical: most of the students would master those skills to an extent that most faculty members wouldnt imagine possible. Without structured training and practice, however, forget widespread mastery of high-level skills. What well get is instead what weve been getting and complaining about for years in that familiar faculty lounge grumbling about the lousy quality of todays students.
Principle 3 - The principles of good teaching are also applicable to teaching freshmen
As I noted at the beginning, the things I had learned in 26 years of teaching non-freshmen engineering students still applied in the first-year course. For example,
Write instructional objectives that cover all the skills you want the students to develop and design your class lessons, assignments, and tests to reflect your objectives.
Model the strategies and skills you want your students to develop.
Maximize active, experiential, problem-based learning; minimize lecturing.
Use cooperative (team-based) learning extensively, both in and out of class.
Dont make speed a major factor on tests.
Positively reinforce successful performance.
Principle 4 - The first semester of college is not necessarily one of lifes happiest times
Unless they went to a gifted and talented magnet school, most first-year engineering students were at or near the top of their high school classes and breezed through their courses hardly ever needing to crack a book. It comes as a severe shock when they discover that their classes are filled with people who are as bright or even brighter than they are and that papers that would have earned automatic As and commendations several months earlier now come back covered with red marks and critical comments. They are stunned to learn that unless they really study and do lots of homework outside classeven (gasp) on evenings and weekendsthey get tests back with grades they never even knew existed.
About a month into the fall semester Phil Dail asked the IMPEC students to rate their current stress levels on a scale from 1 (no stress at all) to 10 (unbearable stress) and invited them to explain their ratings. The average rating for the class was between 7 and 8. Most of the students were anxious about grades and many were suffering crises of confidence in their abilities for the reasons just described. That was just the beginning, though. They were also in desperation over homesickness, roommate problems, health problems, financial problems, recent or impending relationship breakups, severe parental pressures to succeed, too much or too little social life, recent or impending parental divorces, sick or dying family members, and intense peer pressure to get involved with alcohol or drugs. When I read those papers I was amazed that so many of the students were able to get out of bed and face the day every morning, let alone concentrate on academics. I reminded myself of this situation periodically throughout the semester. It helped me cut them some slack when they didnt always meet my expecta-tions about attending and participating in class, completing assignments, and studying for tests.
Principle 5 - Attitude is three-quarters of the battle
What makes Phil my nominee for best first-year college instructor Ive ever seen is much more than his deep understanding of chemistry and his ability to transmit that understanding. Watching him in action for two minutes makes three things abundantly clear to his students and to anyone else fortunate enough to observe him. First, he enjoys and cares deeply about what he is teaching and he is absolutely passionate in his desire for his students to share his enjoyment and appreciation. Second, he believes with every fiber of his being that all of them are capable of succeeding. Third he will take it as a personal failure if any of them fail for any reason. His students see this and they respond. He pushes them to understand chemistry, experimental science in general, the connections between theory and experimentation, and the need for clear communication of results, at a far deeper level than their counterparts in the standard curriculum are ever required to reach. He teases, cajoles, challenges, hurls mock threats&and when they succeed he almost falls over himself in his eagerness to praise them. With few exceptions, his students get where he wants them to go.
Phils enthusiasm is contagious and inspired the rest of us on the IMPEC faculty to try to emulate him. It worked. In the end, the students turned in some outstanding written reports on challenging engineering design projects, gave oral presentations of their work that would put most of what goes on at professional conferences to shame, and significantly outscored control groups on a variety of performance and self-confidence measures.
Teaching freshmen can be exasperating, and its easy to conclude that it isnt worth the effort to overcome the obstacles they put in the way of their own learning and growth. The main thing I learned in two years of teaching them is that it is worth the effort. If youre sufficiently patient, thick-skinned, and positive, and if you maintain unshakable faith in their ability to succeed despite themselves, they will reward you by December with understanding and skills you would not have believed possible in September.
Ten Reasons for Setting Goals
As discussed in the Authors Corner, success is "the achievement of something desired or planned." Our effectiveness in working with our students on issues of goal identification and goal clarification is key to their success. Mary Heather Hannah of the University of Arkansas ([email protected]) provides ten reasons for setting goals.
- Goals give your life direction
- Goals prevent procrastination
- Goals ensure the best use of your time and energy
- Goals encourage enthusiasm
- Goals let you be specific when seeking help from others
- Goals allow you to save time
- Goals help you make and save money
- Goals help you keep things in perspective
- Goals give you a standard against which to measure your progress
- Goals provide a foundation for setting new goals and therefore encourage lifetime growth
Divide your students into groups and have each group discuss one of these benefits. Ask them to come up with specific examples of where they have set a goal and whether they received the benefit. Have each group report out to the class.
Learning to Learn: Using Guided Imagery for Personal Growth
by Mary Heather Hannah, University of Arkansas
Guided imagery can be used by students to resolve conflicts or to set long term goals. Students can be taught the guided imagery process through an exercise conducted in an Introduction to Engineering class. Armed with a simple understanding of the general process, guided imagery can become a powerful tool for students to use on their own for personal growth and development.
The Guided Imagery Process
Relax. Use whatever works for you. Make yourself comfortable. Gently close your eyes. One common relaxation method is to play some soft music and relax individual muscles. Another is to focus on your breathing. As you slowly exhale visualize a black, murky smoke leaving your body as a means of ridding yourself of negative energy. As you slowly inhale picture clear mountain air entering your body as a means of capturing positive energy. The longer you spend doing this, the more relaxed you'll feel.
Concentrate on a specific problem or question. Concentration can be focused verbally, by mentally saying a question repeatedly, or visually, by remembering what the problem looked and sounded like with as much detail as possible. Consider, for example, having problems with your professor. A verbal approach might be to repeat the question, "How can I deal with my professor in a healthy way." On the other hand, a visual approach might be to remember, in as much detail as possible, what your professor looks and sounds like when she or he is behaving problematically. As the concentration deepens, images will form as if in a dream, taking on a life and logic of their own.
Interact with the images before you. More like visions than dreams, guided imagery expects the "viewer" to participate in the unfolding action. One common question to ask of images is what information they have to share¾ essentially the "why is the image here" question. Avoid naming objects in the vision, thus removing their power to help, by asking the images what it's name is. Accept the vision as it is, no matter how strange it may seem, and be assured that there is meaning waiting to be discovered. When no additional images appear or actions occur, return to a normal waking state by slowly moving your body or by gently opening your eyes.
Return to a normal waking state. The vision may be disorienting, and a few simple steps should be followed when dealing with this disorientation. Slowly shake each arm and leg and stretch a bit. Perhaps even try gently jumping up and down after some stretching.
Begin deciphering meaning from the vision. You can determine meaning in a variety of ways including visually, verbally, and kinesthetically. Draw out the image using crayons or markers. Be in touch with the image. What is it like? What are the aspects and/or qualities of the image? How is that image you? As you look at the image, write down responses to it or needs the image may have. Alternatively, a written description of the elements and their interaction may be appropriate. Another possibility is to move as if you were a component of the vision.
An incubation period may be necessary to think about the images and their potential meanings. Often its a good idea to talk to someone about elements in the vision. Others can spark ideas for potential meanings. In addition, a book on dream symbolism may be helpful; however, you are the ultimate judge of what is the correct meaning of an image. Personal relevance is key to unlocking the meaning behind the images.
Application Example: In-Class Personal Development Exercise
An in-class introduction to guided imagery may be helpful to teach students the process and to demonstrate its usefulness. Approximately 30 to 45 minutes will be needed to complete the exercise. Required equipment includes paper, colored pencils or markers, and soft music playing in the background. The following is a sample exercise. Modifications and pauses can be placed wherever appropriate.
Make yourself comfortable. Gently close your eyes. Be in touch with your breathing, the natural rhythm of your breath. Allow any tension to flow through you into the floor, the earth. Feel your attention and energy pulling in. Be in a state of awareness, of attentive energy. When you are doing this activity, simply note what you observe, no analyzing, simply observe, knowing you can work with it later. If your mind is busy saying, but I need to know what this means, reassure it that you will be able to analyze later. For now simply observe and note. Allow yourself the fullness of this experience, knowing that you don't have to do anything about it.
Visualize yourself ten years from now as you think about these questions (Pause between questions. Feel free to skip or to ask other questions.):
Describe where are you living.
Characterize what your friends are like.
Comment on how are you earning a living.
Describe what you do for entertainment and relaxation.
Describe your interests and hobbies.
Discuss the types of knowledge you hope to acquire.
Characterize the direction of your aspirations.
When you are ready, slowly open your eyes and gently stretch, return to a normal waking state. Put the images on paper in a comfortable way.
After images are on paper, small group discussions can be helpful in discovering personal meaning. When small groups return to the larger group, issues of transference¾ in other words, how to apply this method to a different situation¾ can be discussed. Students should be encouraged to try guided imagery on their own.
Two ideas are crucial to the success of this learning: confidence that it will work and belief that this is a valid way of learning. People often think that in learning or writing the only approach to success is to be sitting at a well lighted desk in a very relaxed manner with no distraction. Things that have been seen as alternative ways of learning are now moving towards the center and are becoming acceptable.
An "Introduction to Engineering and Engineering Technology" Course for High School Students - Part II
by Cynthia S. Hirtzel, Dean of Engineering, Temple University
This is the second column devoted to describing a course entitled "Introduction to Engineering and Engineering Technology" developed for high school students (the first column appeared in the Fall 1996 issue of this newsletter). And, as described in that first column, the primary textbook for the course is Studying Engineering by Ray Landis. Much of the philosophy, ideas, and motivation for the course were derived from Landis work, research, and experience with student development and success. The focus for that first column was on our motivation for developing the course, and also included, for example, a brief outline of the course as it was offered to students at a local high school (the Carver High School of Engineering and Science in Philadelphia).
One of the underlying philosophies and motivations for developing the course was to provide a foundation for student success in college, irrespective of whether or not the students taking the course intended to pursue engineering or engineering technology majors in college. Chapter One of Landis book is entitled "Keys to Success in Engineering Study" and, in fact, this chapter presents the key factors to success in any field of study or, for that matter, in any endeavor. As delineated by the author, these three key factorsdetermination, effort, and approachwill enable the student to succeed and achieve the goal of a B.S. degree in engineering or, in my opinion, any field.
On Day 1 of the course, each student was given an exercise entitled, "Getting to Know You." The intent of the exercise was precisely that; i.e., to enable the instructor to quickly gain some meaningful insights into each and every student, his/her goals and objectives, and so forth. In order to focus the students thinking and writing, several specific questions were asked (in addition to allowing the students to write about whatever else they wanted to tell us, the instructors, about themselves). These questions included, among others:
What made you decide to study engineering (or whatever)?
What motivates you?
What do you believe are your special strengths and skills?
What do you expect from this course?
What are your personal goals and objectives, both short-term and long-term?
Students were given about twenty-five minutes to respond to this exercise, and the remainder of that first class was devoted to the usual description of the course syllabus, text and other details.
This exercise then led quite logically to the first assignment from the text. In particular, students were assigned five problems from Chapter One for this first assignment. These problems assigned were: "List ten goals you want to achieve in your lifetime. Classify each as a short-term goal, intermediate-term goal, or long-term goal." [problem 2]; "Have you ever achieved anything that others thought you couldnt through sheer determination? What was it?" [problem 6]; "Do you think that people succeed because of their ability or because of their effort? Which do you think is more important: ability or effort? Why?" [problem 8]; "List five things that you could do to study smarter that you are not currently doing. Pick the two most important ones and try to implement them." [problem 9]; and, finally, "List ten tasks that an engineer might perform (e.g., write a report, conduct a meeting). Rank them in the order that you would most enjoy doing. Explain why you picked your top three." [problem 11]
In addition to turning in these assignments, a class period was devoted to open discussion of these problems and students responses. The discussion was tremendous, and the diversity of opinion on such issues as, for example, whether ability or effort is more important, was amazing and gave me, as an instructor (and listener and observer during the discussions) great insight into the students, their ways of thinking, their modes of action/reaction, and other aspects of their personalities and learning styles.
These problems and students responses were revisited several times throughout the semester and it was interesting to note how, in some cases, individual students changed their initial responses and ideas as the course progressed.
In closing this column, I would like to reiterate how useful this text is for use with high school students, not only for students who intend to major in engineering or engineering technology, but for all students.
by Don Woolston
Earlier this fall, over 200 engineering freshmen at the University of Wisconsin-Madison heard about the importance of determination, effort, and approach in studying engineering first-hand from Dean Ray Landis who never left his campus in California.
The students were in an auditorium in Engineering Hall in Madison, attending a class called Engineering Professional Development 101, Contemporary Issues in Engineering. In this classroom, Dean Landis appeared live and in person, in the form of a 20 ft tall electronic image transported there over regular phone lines through the technology of compressed video. Likewise, Dean Landis could see the class to whom he was speaking on a TV monitor in a distance education classroom in Los Angeles. While the video was not broadcast quality, it was certainly of sufficient resolution to produce a feeling of presence and interaction.
Dean Landiss messages on the importance of change on the part of beginning students, the importance of students learning how to study engineering, and the importance of determination, approach and effort were absorbed by UW-Madison freshmen, who are encouraged but not required to take EPD 101. The course counts as a one-credit hour liberal elective class in their curriculum. Throughout the semester, students learn about problem solving, teamwork, environmental issues, legal issues, ethical issues, and the importance of diversity and quality in modern engineering practice.
The class also has a strong academic support component, to which Dean Landis message was crucial. The class is team-taught by the staff of the Pre-Engineering Office (Jordan Lee, Linda Schilling, Bonnie Schmidt, Don Woolston, and Eman Zaki). The Office is responsible for the advising and academic affairs of all freshman engineering students at UW-Madison. More often than not, the instructors invite practicing engineers to lead the classes to give the freshmen role models and a first-hand, up-to-date impression of modern engineering practice. Dean Landis book Studying Engineering is recommended for the course.
Did Dean Landis appearance in the class make an impression? Here is what one of the students wrote in her EPD 101 journal:
For the first time in Mondays class, I realized first-hand how impressive the technological resources can be in a place like this. To have someone sitting in California talking to us was really impressive and it made me very glad I chose a school large enough where such things are possible and even common. This one little technological wonder got me thinking about the amazing things that are going on all over this university. It is very exciting to be in a place with so much going on, and I am very happy to be part of it.
CALL FOR PAPERS
Success 101 is published twice yearly (May 1 and Dec 1) and mailed to approximately 2,000 engineering educators. We are seeking articles for the Spring, 1998 issue.
Deadline March 15, 1998
Submissions may range from very short (e.g., quotes, exercises, activities) to up to two pages in the newsletter (opinion pieces, success stories, letters to the editor). Submit (preferably by e-mail or on disk) to:
c/o Dr. Raymond B. Landis
School of Engineering and Technology
California State University, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA 90032
Telephone: (213) 343-4500
Fax: (213) 343-4555
E-mail: [email protected]