Welcome to the IMPULSE program, a learning community that combines an integrated curriculum with active collaborative learning, teamwork, and the latest technology. This innovative program, which has been used successfully at UMass Dartmouth for the past eight years, has shown that an integrated curriculum can help students like you gain the skills you need to succeed as an engineering major and which are sought by employers.
IMPULSE at a Glance (PDF)
The integrated curriculum
As a freshman in the IMPULSE program, you will take several interrelated courses: engineering and calculus in the fall semester; and engineering, physics, and calculus in the spring semester. Although students in most first-year engineering programs take these courses, there is a major difference in our College of Engineering: in IMPULSE, these courses are coordinated by the faculty and completed as a set, even though you receive a separate grade in each.
Active collaborative learning
The structure and vitality of your classes is another significant difference between the IMPULSE curriculum and a traditional first-year engineering program. Instead of relying solely on lecturing, your professors will ask you to collaborate with your fellow students and be actively involved in learning. You will perform experiments, ask and answer questions, solve problems, debate, and brainstorm. You will take an active role in your classes. Research shows that critical thinking skills, vital to the engineering and science careers, are enhanced through collaborative learning (Johnson & Johnson, 1986).
Working in teams
As a student in the IMPULSE program, you will be part of a team that includes two or three classmates. (Your instructors will assign students to teams and can change membership.) With the team approach, you have a valuable opportunity to meet and work with other students who have the same goals and interests as you. You will work closely with this group. By working in teams, you contribute to the learning process.
What your team expects from you
- Creative thinking
- Individual accountability
- Constructive criticism
- Working towards a common goal
What should you expect from the team? All of the above.
Many of your assignments will be graded individually, but some will be based on what the team produces together.
The many benefits of teamwork
As a student team member you will:
- form a network of friends and colleagues
- learn to work in a diverse group, with students who have a variety of viewpoints, skills, and styles
- develop your communication skills
- learn from your teammates in a supportive environment
All of these represent key lessons for you as both a student and future professional engineer. Most industry jobs require you to work in teams, so employers consider collaboration and teamwork skills to be major assets.
The latest technology
Your classes will be held in a room specifically designed and built for the IMPULSE program, with new computers providing access to the latest math, physics, and engineering software. You’ll use these computers and other equipment to conduct experiments, collect data, and analyze information in tackling your assignments. Each computer is part of a network so you can share information quickly, easily, and accurately.
Just as you will work in teams with your classmates, your professors will be teaching as a team. The IMPULSE faculty work together to present the cross-disciplinary curriculum that will help you succeed as an engineering major.
Now this is immersion!
Getting off to a wet start, IMPULSE students found that while coping with studies, they also had a tough engineering challenge: to design and build a boat — very quickly — out of nothing but cardboard and duct tape. Not only did it have to float, but it had to carry a team member across the UMass Dartmouth pool — the long way — and fast!
Here's a photo sampling of what went on, as students got an early lesson in engineering design, materials, and teamwork.