Impact of a Common Engineering First-year Experience on Enrollment and Recruiting in Engineering Technology
The engineering technology programs at a large public southwestern university are located the College of Engineering alongside multiple traditional engineering programs as well as computer science. Prior to the Fall of 2014, engineering technology admitted new students through one of three mechanisms; as true freshmen entering college for the first time, as transfer students from other institutions of higher education, and as change of curriculum students from other departments either in the College of Engineering or the University. The vast majority of new students came to the department as change of curriculum students, often with a history of academic issues. In Fall of 2014, the College went through a major restructuring and created a new general engineering program. This new program was designed to support student success through a common first year curriculum and experience. The common curriculum included the first two engineering calculus courses, engineering chemistry, and the first engineering physics courses as well as introductory engineering courses that introduced students to programming, engineering design and an introduction to the different majors (engineering and engineering technology) available in the College As a result, all new first-time-in-college students are now admitted to general engineering including those students interested in engineering technology. It is only after students complete this first year experience that they can apply to one of the many degree programs available in the College. At the time of inception, it was not clear what impact this common first year experience would have on engineering technology and, more specifically, on enrollment, student quality and retention. Now, with six years of historic data as well as limited data available prior to 2014, the effects this restructuring has had on engineering technology can be analyzed. This paper presents this analysis and discusses impacts on recruiting, retention, enrollment and student quality. Conclusions are drawn as to the value to engineering technology departments of a common first year experience that cohorts new engineering and engineering technology students together for their first year.