Examining the experiences and perceptions of first-year engineering students

Irene B. Mena, Sarah Elizabeth Zappe, Thomas Litzinger

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The College of Engineering at a mid-Atlantic research University is working on a multi-year study that seeks to understand the undergraduate engineering experience and how engineering undergraduates are being prepared to become engineers of 2020: engineers who are good communicators, creative, and ethical, and who have the skills to work in global and multidisciplinary teams. One of the components of this study consists of understanding the first-year engineering experience. The purpose of this paper is to describe the first-year engineering experience at the University. It answers the following research questions: (1) How do students define engineering? (2) Why are students planning to major in engineering? (3) What are some of the positive experiences in students' first year of engineering? and (4) What are students' perceptions of the following engineer of 2020 skills and attributes: communication, creativity, global and multidisciplinary teamwork, and ethics? Data for this study was collected using surveys and interviews. A total of 665 first-year engineering students completed a survey in the fall 2011 semester. Forty first-year engineering students who completed the survey participated in one one-hour semi-structured interview in the spring 2012 semester. The results shared in this paper can be useful to universities and departments interested in understanding and improving the first-year engineering experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Sep 24 2013
Event120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Atlanta, GA, United States
Duration: Jun 23 2013Jun 26 2013


Other120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityAtlanta, GA

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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