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NSF funds NJIT's participation in program to retain engineering students
Date:9/2/2011

The Newark College of Engineering (NCE) at NJIT has been selected by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to participate as one of 20 universities and colleges across the nation in a new five-year program to keep students enrolled in engineering programs. This selection is the culmination of a two-year long effort led by NCE Dean Sunil Saigal and Associate Dean Lisa Axe.

Currently, some 43 percent of engineering undergraduates switch to other majors. The ENGAGE program (Engaging Students in Engineering) has awarded NJIT a grant valued at $100,000 which includes NJIT matching funds.

The program is based on the successful Cooperative Extension Service model at state land-grant institutions. It will provide resources and expertise to engineering schools, enabling them to create successful academic and social environments.

"In higher education circles, many people talk about the need in the U.S. for well-trained engineers, if the nation is to remain an innovation leader in fields ranging from energy to nanotechnology," said Priscilla P. Nelson, professor in the department of civil engineering and ENGAGE project lead at NJIT. "Although the number of engineering jobs here is expected to grow by 11 percent in the decade spanning 2008 to 2018, what most people don't realize is that the nation's colleges won't be able to keep pace with that demand unless something radically changes in the way engineers are educated."

Susan Metz, ENGAGE's principal investigator, said that the program advocates and teachers should use three proven and time-honored research-based strategies in the first two years of schooling. This is the key period in which engineering students are most at risk to change majors. The strategies are improving and increasing interaction between faculty and students; illustrating engineering concepts in courses by using everyday familiar objects; and improving students' spatial visualization skills.

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Contact: Sheryl Weinstein
sheryl.m.weinstein@njit.edu
973-596-3436
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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