Innovative program prepares first-year engineering students for future success

EGR 111: Introduction to Engineering and Computing provides first-year engineering students with experiences across the engineering disciplines.

Innovative program prepares first-year engineering students for future success

‌Today’s engineers must be multi-skilled, multi-faceted, and multi-disciplinary. In progressive industrial environments, engineers from different disciplines must be able to work side-by-side on collaborative projects. To succeed in their fields, new engineers must possess strong skills in communication and teamwork and must have an understanding of all engineering disciplines.

The College of Engineering’s innovative new course, Introduction to Engineering and Computing, provides first-year engineering students with experiences across the engineering disciplines. The course—better known on campus as EGR 111—focuses on skills essential to success in any engineering major and on the design process as a whole, rather than on fundamentals of specific majors such as electrical and mechanical engineering. Students learn about the different majors and professions and about integrating technologies in engineering systems.

"With insightful recommendations from industry board members and successful alumni, we are implementing changes for our students that will give them the edge they need to compete in today’s career market," said Dr. Balasubramanian (Ram Bala), associate dean of the college.

Building teamwork skills & confidence

EGR 111 was introduced as a pilot in fall 2013, led by Prof. Karen Payton of the Electrical and Computing Engineering department and Bala, a professor in the Computer Information Science department.

Based on positive student and faculty feedback, the College of Engineering rolled out EGR 111 to all 315 incoming engineering freshmen this fall.

Introduction to Engineering and Computing, provides first-year engineering students with experiences across the engineering disciplines.

A primary focus of this integrated freshman course is the transition of high school seniors to the demands of an engineering or computer science college curriculum. EGR 111 builds student confidence, introduces teamwork skills, and provides hands-on experiences. Students are assigned to multi-disciplinary teams on two different lab design projects, either tackling a robotics project or building a roller-coaster.

‌Positioning students for career success

"EGR 111 positions students for success on campus, in the workplace, and in working with their peers," said Bala.

EGR 111 is taught using active and collaborative learning techniques and leverages students’ use of laptops, tablets and/or cell phones to solicit real-time feedback from students during class.

The course will act as the first part of bookend collaborative team efforts, culminating in senior capstone projects in which students work on industry sponsored real-world engineering. A key goal is to improve retention in the engineering disciplines—which is a nationwide challenge—through early immersion of students into multi-disciplinary engineering activities. With common understanding, UMass Dartmouth’s student engineers will have a leg up on career success.

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