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College’s Freshman Curriculum Featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education

The College of Engineering’s new First-Year Curriculum, launched in the fall of 2009, was featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education in late October, with coverage of the new hands-on, interdisciplinary program appearing in the print issue and on the publication’s “Measuring Stick” blog.

Reporter David Glenn visited the College on October 18 to spend the day learning more about the curriculum from faculty and students; touring the College’s teaching and research facilities; and dropping by a few freshman classes in person.

His visit resulted in the curriculum being included in a larger trend story about the shift toward discipline-specific efforts to address assessment needs and improve student performance. The article can be found at

A few days later, the curriculum’s components – including the core course and the hands-on, multi-disciplinary project choices offered to students – were featured in a blog post dedicated specifically to the College’s First-Year Curriculum. Read the blog post here.

Now in its second year, the College’s new First-Year Curriculum was designed to help incoming students understand what it means to think like an engineer and to help them choose their intended major discipline sooner and more effectively in their college careers.

The curriculum begins with a seven-week core course that blends engineering fundamentals with hands-on group micro-projects that bring classroom lessons to life. Following the core course, students select two of five interdisciplinary, hands-on mini-projects that expose students to a minimum of two major disciplines each. Mini-projects offered this academic year include:

  • Application of Acoustic Technologies for Predicting Structural Failure
  • Artificial Kidney: Improving Dialysis
  • Electric Car Design
  • Robotics and MATLAB Programming
  • The Load/Deflection Character of a SMARTBEAM

By mid-second semester, students select their intended major discipline and spend the remaining seven weeks studying in that area.