1)   Activities and Findings

a)    Major research and education activities 

The Assessment Team conducted a literature review on various aspects of and problems in engineering education. The quantitative literature review focused on engineering students’ retention and attitude toward engineering. The qualitative literature review examined the cultural and social aspects of engineering programs in higher education institutes and students’ sense of belongingness and access to support systems across different subgroups of students. 

In Fall 2009 and Spring 2010, the Assessment Team collected both quantitative and qualitative data to create a baseline data-base.  The following types of data collection activities were completed up to date.

i)     Quantitative Data Collection Activities:

  • ·         Evaluating Academic Success Effectively (EASE) survey results conducted by Student Affairs are being reviewed to examine the overall academic and social engagement of new students.
  • ·         The Motorsports summer camp online post-survey was developed and administered in summer 2009.
  • ·         The Pittsburgh Freshman Engineering Attitude Survey (PFEAS) data were integrated with academic and demographic data from Banner. The merged data are currently being analyzed.
  • ·         Strategic Planning & Assessment Resource Team (SPART) survey data are being collected in the spring of 2010 to obtain information on the academic experience of engineering students as well as retention and graduation rate. The SPART data will be merged with the PFEAS data for analysis.
  • ·         In order to create a qualitative baseline data-base, three types of qualitative data, document, observation, and interviews, were collected from all sections of ENGR 1201 (Introduction to Engineering) classes between October 10, 2009 and February 28, 2010.  The document data included basic demographic information about all ENGR 1201 course instructors, Teaching Assistants, and students, course syllabus, instructional materials, lesson plans, major assignment guidelines, and materials used for training of the Teaching Assistants.
  • ·         In Fall, 2009, seven in-depth individual interviews were conducted with three instructors and four Teaching Assistants. Each interview was based on a semi-structured interview protocol listing several key questions about what they view as major strengths and/weaknesses of their program in general and ENGR 1201 class in particular. The instructor interviews took 60 to 90 minutes and Teaching Assistant interviews took about 45 minutes. Except for one Teaching Assistant interview, all instructor and Teaching Assistant interviews were conducted by the qualitative evaluator.
  • ·         In the Fall 2009 semester, eight selected ENGR 1201 lecture and lab sections were observed by the qualitative evaluator (Jae Hoon Lim) and her Research Assistants. Each observation lasted throughout the entire class period and therefore took about 1 hour 45 minutes. The classroom observation was based on an observation protocol created to document several key social and cultural aspects of the classes. In later observations, a modified observation protocol was also used to document the general patterns of interactions between the instructor and students in large lecture sessions. 
  • ·         In the late Fall 2009 and early Spring 2010 semesters, the Assessment Team interviewed 46 freshmen engineering students, 38 males and 8 females, who were enrolled in ENGR 1201 classes in Fall 2009. The student sample consisted of 32 Caucasians, 8 Asians (including 4 middle-eastern), 2 African-Americans, 3 Hispanics, and 1 Native-American. Forty interviews were conducted as individual interviews while 3 interviews were conducted as pair interviews that included two students in one interview process. Both types of interview took about 30 to 45 minutes and were also based on a semi-structured interview protocol listing several key questions about their campus and classroom learning experiences. All interviews were audio-recorded for verbatim transcription later. All interviews were conducted by the qualitative evaluator or her Research Assistants who had been trained by the evaluator.
  • ·         The High School Visit Log was created to collect data for each high school visit made by a designated representative of the UNC Charlotte Engineering Program. The log includes sections documenting basic demographic information about the school, the number of students and school faculty/staff who interacted with the university representative during the visit, and overall responses from the high school faculty and students.  

ii)    Qualitative Data Collection Activities:

iii)   Electrical 1202 Solar Radiation Simulator Lab

Per the project proposal, we are in the process of developing a solar radiation simulator lab which has been purchased along with a standard calibration solar cell.   The solar simulator was installed in the ECE clean room and initial testing of the standard and future fabricated solar cells was begun.


Figure 1. Solar radiation simulator

iv)  The Motorsports summer camp 

Per the project proposal, we conducted our first “trial” Motorsports summer camp even though the project started late and there was little time to prepare.  This enabled us to work out the kinks and get some feedback for the full camp in summer 2010. 

Describe the weeks activities, number of kids, feedback, successes, failures, what we learned, how we are going to change for this summer, who was involved

v)    Civil 1202 Instrumented Truss Testing Lab

Per the project proposal, we are in the process of developing an Instrumented Truss Testing Lab for the Civil Engineering version of ENGR 1202.  This includes two specially developed truss crushing frames to supplement the original one.

It also includes the Instrumented Truss Tester equipment from Pasco.  This is expected to be operational in plenty of time for the Year 2 running of the ENGR1202 course.  Year 1 is being evaluated as a data baseline.

vi)  Mechanical 1202 Rapid Prototyping Lab

Per the project proposal, we purchased Rapid Prototyping machines for the Mechanical Engineering version of ENGR 1202.  This includes two 180-00200 Dimension SST1200 ES 3D Printers from Technical and Educational Training Aids.  These machines have been received and installed.

Since the Mechanical Engineering version of ENGR 1202 is twice the size of the Civil and Electrical, we broke the class into two groups.  In order to get baseline assessment data, we carefully divided the groups into ‘with’ and ‘without’ access to these machines.  The care is related to the perception of “students without access” finding out and unintentionally suggesting a biased answer to the assessment team questions (as well as complaining to us).

vii) ENGR 1201 seminars

Per the proposal direction, (but not quite the timeline), ENGR 1201 seminars will be fully implemented in fall 2010 – series of evening seminars to expose students to cool aspects of engineering – failures, demonstrations, guest speakers

viii)        Civil 1202 Wastewater Treatment Lab

By carefully managing the project funds, we have been able to leverage the development of a Wastewater Treatment Lab for the Civil Engineering version of ENGR 1202.  Most of the components for this have been obtained for this lab but the goal is to provide “hands-on” wastewater treatment activities. 

Unlike water used for drinking, the water exiting homes (and businesses, etc.) travels in Sanitary Sewers to a wastewater treatment plant before being returned to rivers. 

The lab will include two main parts, a small scale Activated Sludge Basin, and a Settling Basin (or Clarifier).  In addition, Professor Bowen has developed a simple numerical model for the students.  This is expected to be operational in plenty of time for the Year 2 running of the ENGR1202 course as year 1 is being evaluated as a baseline.

ix)  The outreach NASCAR Race Car

In the most extreme case of carefully managed project funds and leveraged support, we have been able to support the development of an outreach vehicle like no other.  By combining support from dozens of sources, we will have a UNC Charlotte NASCAR race car to take on our high school outreach visits.  This car will include two racing seats in order to be able to take passengers and should be capable of greatly engaging students.  Considering the high tire cost of “Doughnut Demonstrations” it is fortunate that Goodyear has volunteered all the tires we can consume.


Figure 2. UNC Charlotte race car paint scheme proposal

The “Red Bull” Nascar team donated their 2008 race car without a drive train and allowed us to display it without their name on it.   Luke Woroniecki, our race shop manager, has applied a small portion of project funds to support this development.  In addition, he managed to leverage support from dozens of suppliers to supply expensive parts to complete this car.

It is expected to be complete by this summer’s camp; however, for liability reasons, we will not be letting high school students drive the car.

This car will also be available for three courses each fall.  Although these are for 3rd year Juniors in ME, it won’t be lost on the underclassmen what lurks in their future and the mechanical engineering department is the size of civil and electrical combined.  The classes are MEGR 3090 Motorsports Instrumentation, MEGR 3211 Vehicle Dynamics, and MEGR 4112, Intermediate Fluid Dynamics and Vehicle Aerodynamics (taught by the Dean of the College of Engineering).

x)    Engaging undergraduate research programs

In addition to the race car, three other small research programs in ME received some support, (mostly in the form of supported graduate assistant time). 

The first research project is a race car engine program in which a brightly Copper colored big block 548 cu in V8 engine is under construction in the undergraduate race shop.  This program leveraged many times the project cost in supplier donated materials and will result in a Masters thesis.  The thesis topic includes the effect of various coatings on internal components and the majority of the support comes from “Calico Coatings”.

A second small project includes the support of a NASCAR drafting study in the new UNC Charlotte Water tunnel.  This water tunnel is located right in the undergraduate motorsports shop where undergraduate engineers work in large numbers every evening.


Figure 3. Summer campers at the water tunnel

The third research project with small support is a window inside a race car oil pan.  This one will provide an exciting view into the internals of a running engine and uses a spinning window to shed prayed oil.  Part of the credibility and most of the cost of this project comes from the “Richard Childress Racing” Nascar race team.

b)   Major findings 

i)     Results from Quantitative Assessment

The Motorsports Summer Camp Post-Survey

  • The survey instrument was self-administered and web-based. The Likert-type scale items were written to measure participants’ experiences with 1) residential services, 2) pre-college life experiences, and 3) the camp engineering activities. Additionally, participants were asked to provide some written feedback and recommendations for future camps. A total of 10 students completed the survey. Overall scores on closedended questions were predominantly favorable. Ratings were low on the following items: evening activities, evening speakers, “Drop everything and read” activity, pavement testing experiments, and race car track testing experiments. Most commonly cited favorite activities included the NASCAR Hall of Fame tour (as well as tours in general), the race, and the building of robots. Comments often included specifying that the hands-on building and creating activities were most enjoyable. Two students specified that learning about the application of engineering was very helpful. Another cited the non-engineering related activities such as dinner and going to the pool as their most favored. One student simply enjoyed learning and exploring new things. Lectures and talks were frequently cited as being boring or not interesting due to little interaction, being overly long, or not containing enough hands-on aspects. The tour of the testing facility and the actual testing experiments were also mentioned as being boring, with the tests being “inaccurate”. Two students seemed to have had a difference between expectation and reality; one stated that s/he did not realize the Hall of Fame was not complete and was thus disappointed, while another stated that the camp did not include what s/he expected it to include as far as learning activities were concerned. One student cited loud roommates as being disruptive of their sleep, and thus was their least favored aspect. Another student was particularly disappointed that s/he did not get to finish building the robot.
  • Participants responded regarding the improvement of future Motorsports Engineering Camp. More hands-on activities and more activities in general, were frequently mentioned by several students, with one stating that there was too much “sitting around”.  Actual time working with cars was mentioned by two students, with one specifying things such as oil and tire changes and wiring. Another wanted to learn more about the technology of how cars actually worked and could have their speed improved, while yet another mentioned that s/he wanted to actually drive the cars. Other comments included one student noting that the camp appeared poorly planned, while another requested more “extracurricular” activities not relating to motorsports.   
  • Participants responded regarding the most significant thing they learned or experienced during the camp. Learning about the types of engineering, as well as things specific to civil engineering, were cited by a couple of students, while others specified that learning about the actual NASCAR cars was of particular significance. Some students specified that learning about some other aspects of motorsports (pavement testing, car differences, and other things that go into racing) were significant. One student specifically mentioned that meeting the people was important to him or her. Lastly, one student mentioned that since expectations were not met it was hard to discern what was most significant, but that s/he did at least know more about NASCAR than before.

The Pittsburgh Freshman Engineering Attitude Survey

  • The Pittsburgh Freshman Engineering Attitude Survey (PFEAS) was administered to 341 undergraduate students enrolled in Introduction to Engineering (ENGR 1201) in the fall of 2009. The survey consisted of 50 statements designed to measure student attitudes towards the field of engineering. Survey items related to 13 different categories (i.e. jobs, abilities, family) and were measured on a five point “Likert” scale or ordinal-based self-assessed confidence scales. Survey was administered at the beginning of the fall semester and again prior to the end of the semester to all participants. Participation was voluntary and participants were not compensated for survey completion. Participants who did not complete both the pre- and post-test were not included in the final analysis. The final analysis included data from 256 students. Data collected in the fall 2009 will serve as baseline data for future year comparisons.
  • All participants were undergraduate students, with the majority reporting freshman year status. The sample was predominately both male at 92% (n=235); and Caucasian at 75.8% (n=194).  Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander each comprised approximately 8% of the sample, while the ethnicity of African-American made less than 3%. Underrepresentation of minority participants resulted in unequal comparison groups and caution is used in report all results and interpretations. 
  • Secondary institution information was collected and examined for trends. Participants had a mean high school GPA of M=3.77 (n=223, SD=.46).   The SATM mean was M=607(n=230, SD=62.12) and the mean score for SATV was M=535 (n=230, SD=70.64). The participants that took the ACT (n=39) had a mean score of M=22.77 (SD=3.41).  ENGR 1201 student who took the math placement test scored M=19.8 (n=229, SD=3.2). The cumulative college GPA was 2.812 (n=255, SD=.82).The majority of the participants were classified as mechanical, computer, or general engineering majors. The majority of students were North Carolina residents at 83.6% (n=214) and three quarters of the participants applied for financial aid. 
  • The vast majority of the items had the mean score of 3.0 or higher, indicating that participants’ attitude was positive. Pre- and post-survey changes were examined for statistical significance using paired sample t-test. Statistically significant response change was demonstrated in the categories of “basic”, “career”, “communication”, “compatible”, “exact”, and “perception” (p<.001).  In these categories students showed an increase score, equating to a greater response in the affirmative.  These data were further analyzed with one-way repeated measures ANOVAs to examine a relationship between student attitudinal responses and factors such as gender, ethnicity, and major. Analysis was also conducted on secondary information, residency, and course sections. No significant differences were found between groups in regard to pre- and post-survey attitudinal differences. 
  • A validation study of the PFEAS is currently underway. The internal structure of the survey is being examined using factor analytic methods. Further analysis will be conducted to evaluate the validity and the psychometric properties of the survey. The PFEAS may be modeified for use in ENGR 1201 based on the validiation study results.
  •  The PFEAS will be slightly modified by adding more items relating to ENGR1202 and administered to evaluate the impact of ENGR 1202 at the end of April, 2010. 

ii)    Findings from Qualitative Assessment

A preliminary analysis was conducted with document and class observation data as well as student interview data that have been transcribed up to date. Major findings from the data-base available at this point include: 

  • As a whole, freshmen students are satisfied with their engineering program and highly motivated to remain in the program.
  • Freshmen students perceive that their program faculty, particularly ENGR 1201 instructors, provide excellent support and personal connection. 
  • Three major challenges are identified regarding the structure and instructional practices of ENGR 1201 classes. They are; difficulty in providing an effective training for Teaching Assistants; difficulty in maintaining consistency in instruction and grading practices across multiple sections of ENGR 1201, and difficulty in ensuring personal relationship and connection with a growing number of students in the program. 
  • Freshmen students who are currently in the Engineering Learning Community are highly satisfied with the residential arrangement and instructional support provided through the community. These students also developed a solid social and instructional support network among them and benefit from the network.  
  • Male students tend to build a solid social network quickly with other male students in their class or program. To the contrary, female students exhibit a more independent work disposition and are less active in a social networking activity with other students. This tendency is also observed among minority and international students. Yet, minority and international students tend to have their own small social network beyond the disciplinary boundary. 

iii)   ENGR 1201 and ENGR 1202 assessment

Note: ENGR 1201 assessment in fall only, ENGR 1202 assessment in spring only

iv)  Qualitative ENGR 1201 baseline data

Qualitative (student, TA, and faculty interviews) was conducted for the ENGR 1201 classes during the fall 2009 semester for baseline data

v)    Quantitative ENGR 1201 baseline data

Quantitative data was collected for the ENGR 1201 classes during the fall 2009 semester for baseline data (pre and post Pittsburg surveys)

vi)  ENGR 1202 instructor preparation

All 3 ENGR 1202 instructors have begun preparing for implementation activities in the fall 2010 semester – full implementation will occur spring 2011 – first year was used to collect baseline data

vii) The first ENGR 1202 instructor implementation

One ENGR 1202 instructor implemented new techniques in some of his sections (conducting both implementation and baseline data) during the spring 2010

viii)        Qualitative ENGR 1202 baseline data

Qualitative (student, TA, and faculty interviews) are going to be conducted for the ENGR 1202 classes during the spring 2010 semester for baseline data (and some preliminary implementation data from Dr. Raquet’s classes)

ix)  Quantitative Pittsburg survey data for ENGR 1201

Quantitative data will be collected for the ENGR 1201 classes during the spring 2010 semester for baseline data (Pittsburg survey at end of semester)

x)    Solar cell standards

Solar cells can now be tested to industrial and federal accepted standards

c)    Opportunities for training, development and mentoring 

Describe the opportunities for training, development and mentoring provided by your project.

i)     Testing of solar cells

With the ability to test solar cells to established standards, students, faculty, and industry can be trained on the proper methods for solar cell testing.  Users can be mentored in the fabrication, testing, and commercial use of solar cells.

ii)    ENGR 1201 curriculum

ENGR 1201 curriculum will be enhanced with a new series that will expose students to the practical aspects of engineering much earlier  to keep them going for retention

iii)   ENGR 1202 curriculum

ENGR 1202 curriculum will receive a re-vamp of their activities – creating interactive learning activities to push the practical aspects of engineering for better retention of our students

iv)  Peer mentoring using trained collegiate coaches

Beginning fall 2010, more students will receive peer mentoring using trained collegiate coaches through our MAPS program – may want to provide a paragraph on how this works and the benefits

d)   Outreach activities

Outreach activities this project has undertaken.

i)     First Summer Camp, July 27- 31, 2009

We had our first Summer Camp from July 27- 31, 2009 and had a diverse and active group of high school seniors (see below).  They learned about and did pavement testing, race car wiring, road testing of a race car and visited several tracks including “Lowes Motor Speedway” and the “Z-Max Dragway”. Each evening was packed but the one with the greatest feedback was the trip to the racetrack to watch the UNC Charlotte 49’ers Legends Team race.


Figure 5. Summer camp grand finale

The summer campers also participated in field trips to the new NASCAR Hall of Fame building which was under construction and the NASCAR R&D facility where they learned about testing procedures and future projects.


Figure 6. Civil Engineering lecture

Other activities included a school signup program called Undercover University, a tour of the new UNC Charlotte Water Tunnel, and a session of training in CAD drafting (Solidworks).  Evenings included sports and leisure activities and night time activities were limited and monitored by chaperones.


Figure 7. Tour of NASCAR Hall of Fame construction


Figure 8. Summer Campers doing pavement friction tests


Figure 9. Summer Camp track testing


Figure 10. Campers in the UNC Charlotte formula car


Figure 11. They couldn’t drive the NASCAR race car but they wanted their picture in it

ii)    Open house in the Motorsports Shop October 3, 2009

We (the PI mostly) participated in the Explore UNC Charlotte and had an open house in the Motorsports Shop October 3, 2009

iii)   COE Discover Engineering, October 16, 2009

We participated in the COE Discover Engineering event on October 16, 2009

iv)  Explore UNC Charlotte, November 21, 2009

We participated in the Explore UNC Charlotte and had an open house in the Motorsports Shop November 21, 2009


Figure 13. One strategy used was to convince parents of the benefits.

v)    Open house in the Motorsports Shop March 20, 2010

We participated in the Explore UNC Charlotte and had an open house in the Motorsports Shop March 20, 2010


Figure 12. Free food and discussions with students were some of the outreach tools used

vi)  Explore UNC Charlotte April 17, 2010 .

We will be participating in the Explore UNC Charlotte open house in the Motorsports Shop April 17, 2010.

vii) Summer Ventures in Science and Mathematics

We have had planning meetings to provide engineering and motorsports information sessions and demonstrations as part of the Summer Ventures in Science and Mathematics Program.

viii)        The Center for Mathematics, Science, & Technology Education. 

Advertisement and recruitment with schools as part of the Center for Mathematics, Science, & Technology Education, (see http://cstem.uncc.edu/ ).

2)   Publications and Products

a)    Published work

i)     Journal publications 

Although written prior to the start of this project, the PI wrote a conference paper titled “Racing to Learn Engineering”, for the 2008 ASEE Zone 1 Conference, April 2008

ii)    Books or other non-periodicals

Operating procedures for the solar radiation simulator and testing procedures have been established.  These are internal documents but will be available on-line in the future.

b)    Web site 

The web site is a work in progress; however, it can be found at http:s//coefs.uncc.edu/ptkacik/

It includes a sidebar with sections titled:

i)     Home

ii)    About us

iii)   Faculty

iv)  Summer Camp

v)    Research Programs

vi)  Assessment Details

c)    Other specific products  

i)     The assessment tools

Products from Quantitative Data Collection and Analysis

  • The Motorsports summer camp online post-survey was developed and administered in summer 2009.
  • The PFEAS may be further modeified for use in ENGR 1201 based on the validiation study results.
  • The PFEAS will be sligltly modified by adding more items relating to ENGR1202.
  • The Motorsports summer camp pre and post surveys will be developed to evaluate the impact of the summer camp during the week of June 21, 2010.
  • A data file has been created that incorporates all available data (PFEAS and academic and demographic data from the Banner). The file is continually being updated with the new data.  

Products from Qualitative Data Collection and Analysis

  • Three different interview protocols were developed for instructors, Teaching Assistants, and ENGR 1201 students.  Two classroom observation protocols were developed, one focusing on several key social and cultural aspects of the ENGR 1201 classes and the other documenting the general patterns of interactions between the instructor and students in a large lecture sesssion of the classes. 
  • For the second round of baseline data collection scheduled in later Spring 2010, three new interview protocols were developed for ENGR 1202 course instructors, Teaching Assistants, and students.  The two classroom observation protocols originally developed for ENGR 1201 are modified for ENGR 1202 class observations expected in Spring 2010.
  • All qualitative interview data transcribed up to date are stored in a secure external drive that requires a password. The Assessment Team will conduct a systematic and thorough analysis of the entire baseline qualitative data between May 1, 2010 and June 15, 2010. 

ii)    Standard calibration solar cell

With respect to the previously mentioned solar radiation simulator which was purchased, installed, and made operational, a standard calibration solar cell was also purchased to provide testing standards.  Procedures are established as educational aids.

iii)   The UNC Charlotte NASCAR race car

When it is complete, this outreach tool will provide an opportunity to engage high school students in new and innovative ways.  An assessment will provide more details regarding the efficacy.

iv)  Curriculum, seminars, and camp activities under development

Curriculum, seminars, and new camp activities are under development right now.


 3)   Contribution of Project

a)    Principal disciplines;  

The principal disciplines of the project are;  

i)     Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science

ii)    Electrical and Computer Engineering

iii)   Civil and Environmental Engineering

b)   Other disciplines;

Other disciplines of science or engineering include;

i)  Optical Science (Physics)

We have leveraged services and expertise from the Optical Science department in the development of our Solar Radiation Simulator lab.

ii)  Department of Applied Mathematics

Our activities with the CMSTE are in association with the Department of Applied Mathematics.

iii)  The College of Education

The majority of our assessment team including professors and research assistants are from the College of Education

c)    HR development

Regarding the development of human resources, we have the following;

i)   Teaching assistants (TA’s)

Several teaching assistants (TA’s) have been hired and trained.  They have been available to assist in most operations.

d)   Institutional infrastructure 

The physical, institutional, or information resources that form the infrastructure for research and education on this project include;

i)  Freshmen Engineering Programs

We have used immense amounts of resources for data assessment as well as many other things in “Freshmen Engineering Programs” in the College of Engineering.

ii)  Mosaic Computing

We have used resources for web development as well as many other things in “Mosaic Computing” in the College of Engineering

iii)  Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science

We have used physical lab space in Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering.

iv)  Civil and Environmental Engineering

We have used physical lab space in Civil Engineering in the College of Engineering.

v)  Electrical and Computer Engineering

We have used physical lab space in Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering

vi)   CMSTE

Much of our outreach activity has been in concert with nice people in the Center for Mathematics, Science, & Technology Education.

vii)  Summer Programs

Most of our summer camp outreach activity has been led by the nice people in the UNC Charlotte, Summer Programs, ASPIRE program. They also managed the summer camp evening activities, the chaperones, camper transportation, meals, and dorm residence.

viii)  Motorsports Center

We have used the services of the race shop manager for immeasurable hours of activities for this program.

We have used physical lab space, led summer programs, invited high school students and families to the Motorsports Shop in the College of Engineering (now called the Alan Kulwicky Race Shop)

ix)   NASCAR folks and teams

Although not part of UNC Charlotte, we have taken high school students to several invited tours of local race shops (see first summer camp activities).  We have also benefitted from donations of time and physical items from many race teams and race component suppliers.

e)    Public welfare beyond science and engineering

Regarding other aspects of public welfare beyond science and engineering, such as commercial technology, the economy, cost-efficient environmental protection, or solutions to social problems, we have one item.

i)     Solar cell technology

Solar cell technology will be a major part of the new energy needs of the nation.  Students and faculty will now have the equipment necessary to test any new advances in solar cell technology.