- 10:18 AM

Design of a Freshman Chemical Engineering Course

Donald P. Visco Jr., Chemical Engineering, Tennessee Technological University, Box 5013, Cookeville, TN 38505 and Pedro E. Arce, Department of Chemical Engineering, Tennessee Tech University, Prescott Hall Room 214, Cookeville, TN 38505.

In many engineering curriculums, the first opportunity for students to become acquainted with their discipline is in the sophomore or junior years. While such an approach allows for general freshman and/or sophomore engineering classes, it creates other problems as well as misses several opportunities. At our university, we have designed a 1-credit class for first semester freshman enrolled in chemical engineering. This course, which was designed with much student input, includes a variety of areas such as: (1) time management, (2) departmental indoctrination, (3) meeting the faculty, (4) how do all the courses fit into the curriculum, (5) hands-on experimentation, (6) what chemical engineers do in practice and (7) student research opportunities Such a course looks to cultivate the intrinsic interest that students have in this area while addressing issues which are important in sustaining these students to graduation. In this presentation, we discuss the lessons learned from this course as well as provide assessment information for use in future offerings.

Student assessment of this course indicated that, on average, the course was effective at reaching the stated goals (score of 4.2 out of 5.0). Each class session itself was assessed by the students. The top performers were the three “hands-on” experiments that were performed. In a students' comments section of the assessment, it was emphasized that more “hands-on” work should be included when this course is offered next semester. While it is too early to determine if this course was effective from a retention standpoint, anecdotal information suggests a substantial reduction in the number of students transferring out of chemical engineering this year relative to last year.