2022 First-Year Engineering Experience

GIFTS: Engineers in gear: Building a student support model to transcend the COVID era

Presented at Technical Session T2

The COVID-19 virus pandemic spanning the last two years has profoundly affected all aspects of life, particularly for students and educators. Technology has mitigated some of the effects of shifting formal, in-person schooling to a virtual context. The University of Washington’s College of Engineering (UW CoE) instructors and students have experienced this learning environment tectonic shift in myriad ways. As a team within the broader UW CoE, the Engineering Academic Center (EAC) staff learned to adapt to this changing landscape. The EAC team had to be creative and adapt its practices in order to maintain a reasonable approximation of the support systems it’s been utilizing over the last four decades to support students furthest from educational equity to earn engineering degrees. After our university shifted to all remote instruction and interaction, we did not have the physical space where so much of our community building happens. Utilizing data analysis, multimedia tools, and innovative strategies, the EAC team persisted. The adaptation that we are highlighting for this FYEE conference is for our Engineers in Gear, or EIGs, 2-hour study sessions the week prior to exams to prepare students for the types of questions that could be asked on their upcoming assessments. EIGs are done for engineering prerequisite courses in math, physics, chemistry, and engineering fundamentals. With the move to a virtual environment, the EIG model that we had used successfully in-person was adapted to allow for remote participation. We will address how we orchestrated technological tools such as Google Forms, Zoom, Zoom whiteboards and XP-pens to emulate many of the features of in-person EIGs. We will discuss how this adaptation, taken up through necessity, has turned out to be beneficial even with the gradual move back to in-person instruction, and is now a model included in our toolkit of support as we begin to consider transcending the COVID era.

  1. Dr. Sheldon Levias University of Washington [biography]
  2. Dr. Lynne Spencer Ph.D. College of Engineering, University of Washington
  3. Mr. Kelsey F Gabel University of Washington Engineering Academic Center
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