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Interactive First-year Engineering Seminar Series

The Canadian Engineering Education Association (CEEA)


Interactive First-year Engineering Seminar Series Jason Bazylak Susan McCahan, Ph.D., P.Eng. Lecturer, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Associate Professor, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering University of Toronto University of Toronto [email protected] [email protected] Abstract Six years ago, a Seminar Series was implemented in the Engineering Strategies and Practice course for first-year engineering at the University of Toronto. The learning objectives of the seminar series are to teach students communication as an engineer, independent learning, and systems thinking. Additionally the seminar series creates a forum for faculty, and other professional mentors, to imbue a passion for learning in a more intimate environment than is normally associated with first-year courses. The interactive seminar series has proven popular with both the students and the 40+ volunteer seminar leaders recruited from academia, industry, the local community, and non-profit organizations. These seminar leaders mentor their students through a discussion of the technical, social, environmental, economic, legal, ethical, political, and/or human factors associated with an engineering-related topic of the seminar leader's choosing. The past, present, and future of the seminar series will be discussed in this paper. By measure of self-reported growth the learning objectives are being met and as such the seminar series is considered a success. It is predicted to continue, with goals of continuous improvement, for years to come. 1 Introduction Educators of undergraduate students share a common list of challenges in the quest to improve the student experience and student learning. The Boyer report [1] made several recommendations on the improvement of the undergraduate engineering experience. One of these recommendations is the inclusion of a freshmen seminar series in the first-year of study. These seminars are t

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