NSF funds NJIT's participation in program to retain engineering students

September 02, 2011

The Newark College of Engineering (NCE) at NJIT has been selected by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to participate as one of 20 universities and colleges across the nation in a new five-year program to keep students enrolled in engineering programs. This selection is the culmination of a two-year long effort led by NCE Dean Sunil Saigal and Associate Dean Lisa Axe.

Currently, some 43 percent of engineering undergraduates switch to other majors. The ENGAGE program (Engaging Students in Engineering) has awarded NJIT a grant valued at $100,000 which includes NJIT matching funds.

The program is based on the successful Cooperative Extension Service model at state land-grant institutions. It will provide resources and expertise to engineering schools, enabling them to create successful academic and social environments.

"In higher education circles, many people talk about the need in the U.S. for well-trained engineers, if the nation is to remain an innovation leader in fields ranging from energy to nanotechnology," said Priscilla P. Nelson, professor in the department of civil engineering and ENGAGE project lead at NJIT. "Although the number of engineering jobs here is expected to grow by 11 percent in the decade spanning 2008 to 2018, what most people don't realize is that the nation's colleges won't be able to keep pace with that demand unless something radically changes in the way engineers are educated."

Susan Metz, ENGAGE's principal investigator, said that the program advocates and teachers should use three proven and time-honored research-based strategies in the first two years of schooling. This is the key period in which engineering students are most at risk to change majors. The strategies are improving and increasing interaction between faculty and students; illustrating engineering concepts in courses by using everyday familiar objects; and improving students' spatial visualization skills.

"Although these strategies may sound obvious, the research supporting their implementation has been sitting on the shelves for years," said Metz.

At NJIT the project is supported by NCE Dean Saigal and Fadi Deek, Dean of the College of Science and Liberal Arts. Nelson's team includes three experienced and key teachers: David Lubliner, PhD, and university lecturer, department of engineering technology; Ravi Ravindra, PhD, chair and professor, department of physics; and Denis Blackmore, PhD, professor, department of mathematical sciences. Supported by ENGAGE professional development workshops, expertise and resources, the team will design a unique plan to implement the three strategies at NJIT.

"One aspect of our efforts will be to harness the tremendous power and influence faculty exert in making a critical difference in the undergraduate experience of our students," said Saigal. Nelson will lead an effort working with faculty to improve student-faculty interaction through various methods of communication that take some thought, but very little time. "The effort is win-win. Research indicates that course evaluations are better if a professor is perceived as approachable," adds Nelson.

NJIT is one of 20 initial participating colleges. By year four, a total of 30 colleges and universities will participate.

Trail blazers with NJIT include Arizona State University; California State University, Fullerton; Kettering University; Louisiana Tech University; North Carolina State University; Ohio State University; Purdue University; Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology; Santa Clara University; Stevens Institute of Technology; University of Colorado at Boulder; University of Dayton; University of Illinois at Chicago; University of Louisville; University of Maryland; University of New Mexico; University of South Carolina; University of Texas at Austin; Virginia Tech.
-end-
NJIT, New Jersey's science and technology university, enrolls more than 8,900 students pursuing bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in 120 programs. The university consists of six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, College of Architecture and Design, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, College of Computing Sciences and Albert Dorman Honors College. U.S. News & World Report's 2010 Annual Guide to America's Best Colleges ranked NJIT in the top tier of national research universities. NJIT is internationally recognized for being at the edge in knowledge in architecture, applied mathematics, wireless communications and networking, solar physics, advanced engineered particulate materials, nanotechnology, neural engineering and e-learning. Many courses and certificate programs, as well as graduate degrees, are available online through the Office of Continuing Professional Education.

New Jersey Institute of Technology

Related Engineering Articles from Brightsurf:

Re-engineering antibodies for COVID-19
Catholic University of America researcher uses 'in silico' analysis to fast-track passive immunity

Next frontier in bacterial engineering
A new technique overcomes a serious hurdle in the field of bacterial design and engineering.

COVID-19 and the role of tissue engineering
Tissue engineering has a unique set of tools and technologies for developing preventive strategies, diagnostics, and treatments that can play an important role during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Engineering the meniscus
Damage to the meniscus is common, but there remains an unmet need for improved restorative therapies that can overcome poor healing in the avascular regions.

Artificially engineering the intestine
Short bowel syndrome is a debilitating condition with few treatment options, and these treatments have limited efficacy.

Reverse engineering the fireworks of life
An interdisciplinary team of Princeton researchers has successfully reverse engineered the components and sequence of events that lead to microtubule branching.

New method for engineering metabolic pathways
Two approaches provide a faster way to create enzymes and analyze their reactions, leading to the design of more complex molecules.

Engineering for high-speed devices
A research team from the University of Delaware has developed cutting-edge technology for photonics devices that could enable faster communications between phones and computers.

Breakthrough in blood vessel engineering
Growing functional blood vessel networks is no easy task. Previously, other groups have made networks that span millimeters in size.

Next-gen batteries possible with new engineering approach
Dramatically longer-lasting, faster-charging and safer lithium metal batteries may be possible, according to Penn State research, recently published in Nature Energy.

Read More: Engineering News and Engineering Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.