This project will focus on the Chemical Engineering module of Introduction to Engineering. In the Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Dept., two sections of the course have been offered previously. The style of the course has been predominately lecture-based. In this project, the intervention course was redesigned to include predominately hands-on activities that connect to chemical engineering concepts, like conservation of mass and surface tension, and ultimately to a chemical engineering job. These activities were designed to engage students’ curiosity and connection to what chemical engineers do in the real world.
The first-year experience for our engineering program is for students to take a 3-credit course in the Fall called Introduction to Engineering, in addition to the common physics, math, and chemistry courses. The Introduction to Engineering course is broken into three modules, each consisting of 14 sessions. Each department offers 1-3 different sections of a departmental-themed module. Students select 3 different department modules for the semester. Students are advised to select majors that they have not considered, as well as areas that pique their interests. One of the main goals of the course is to showcase each major by demonstrating what students will learn and potential jobs after graduation.
In this study, approximately 70 students took the intervention section of this course, which predominately consisted of hands-on activities and connections to real-world chemical engineering careers. The control section, which was predominately lecture-based, had approximately 90 students. Students in both sections were asked to take pre- and post-surveys that measured their curiosity. In addition, students in the intervention course participated in homework assignments that asked them to connect chemical engineering to the real world. Analysis of the students’ assignments will show to what level students were able to connect chemical engineering concepts to industry and job markets based on the new hands-on activity style of the course. We will also investigate if the different sections, gender, and established majors prior to the course influenced students’ curiosity and connectivity.
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