SCC Improves "Pathway" for Engineering Students
Sandhills Community College is now helping improve the opportunities for students to obtain an engineering degree by beginning locally and transferring to a state university.
Professors at Sandhills Community College are working with colleagues from across the state on an "Improving Engineering Pathways" grant. Headed by the Engineering Departments of East Carolina University and N.C. State University, this grant will provide new opportunities for students desiring to become an engineer.
Some specific community college courses are being improved. Physics professor Rick Swanson explained that these improved courses would give students who do not live near an engineering school a chance to complete the courses that will help prepare them to transfer to an engineering program as a junior.
"Sandhills Community College, which already offers the necessary pre-engineering mathematics and physics courses, will begin offering two new gateway engineering courses required for an engineering major," Swanson said. "These courses will be fully transferable into the engineering programs at N.C. State University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, N.C. A&T and East Carolina University.
"One course is an introduction to the engineering career, and the other is a prerequisite course for junior-level courses that students would take at an engineering university. The universities want their rising juniors to have these courses."
The first course, introduction to engineering (EGR 150), does not require a prerequisite and may be taken by any student who is considering an engineering career and has been successful in mathematics in high school. It is for the curious as well as those who are set on this career path.
The course is designed to provide an overview of the engineering profession and will give students a good idea of whether or not engineering is the career for them. The course will begin in the fall semester, which started Monday.
The second course, engineering statics (EGR 220), may be taken by students who have completed two semesters of calculus as well as the first semester of calculus-based physics.
"This course is traditionally the first difficult class a sophomore engineering student encounters and is a true indication of whether or not the student can be successful as an engineering major," Swanson said.
The class will be offered to qualified students beginning with the spring semester of 2011.
The courses will be Internet-based, combined with classroom interaction. A professor from another institution will teach the class online, and the students will attend classes at Sandhills for guidance and assistance from college faculty.
The structure will be fairly flexible but there will still be the face-to-face interaction often necessary for student success.
"This sort of course is the wave of the future," Swanson said. "And for those who wish to begin at the community college level and transfer into an engineering program, these courses fill-in-the-blanks. There has been a missing piece to this sort of transfer program for engineering, and the gap is now closer to being filled."
Sandhills Community College also offers the general education, advanced mathematics and physics courses required for an engineering major.
Swanson and Dr. Jeanne Morse, of the science department, are part of the "Improving Engineering Pathways" team. They, along with colleagues from the engineering universities and other community colleges, are developing Internet-based resources to improve the physics courses required by engineering programs.
Morse, whose professional field of study is physics education, is excited about this opportunity.
"We can team with colleagues to provide students with learning resources that would otherwise not be available," she said. "The Internet gives us much greater flexibility in the types of resources we can provide over traditional text-based materials."
Morse said these classes will incorporate current technological trends.
"The student will be able to click on a video vignette of the instructor solving a problem, almost as if they are in the classroom seeing it explained," she said.
The benefit of attending a community college and transferring to a university are many - the cost saving resulting from lower tuition and fees, reduced living expenses and smaller class sizes with more personal attention are paramount. Also, Sandhills Community College was the first comprehensive community college in North Carolina to offer a college transfer program. All professors who teach courses that transfer are fully accredited and hold at least a master's degree.
For more information about these engineering courses, contact Swanson at (910) 695-4951 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
High school students who wish to take the classes as a dual-enrolled student should contact Lauren Holland at (910) 695-3716 or email@example.com.
All registration information can be found at www.sandhills.edu or by calling (910) 695-3725.
Karen Manning is the director of marketing and public relations for Sandhills Community College.
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