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Ohio State College of Engineering Chosen for NSF ENGAGE Program

Due to its commitment to improving the undergraduate experience and retention of engineering students, Ohio State’s College of Engineering has been selected to receive a $12,000 grant to participate in ENGAGE: Engaging Students in Engineering, a five-year program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

ENGAGE is an NSF Extension Service Project modeled on the successful Cooperative Extension Service program at state land-grant institutions. It provides resources and expertise to engineering schools, enabling them to create an academic and social environment that helps students succeed.

Four individuals serve on Ohio State’s ENGAGE team: Lisa Abrams, clinical assistant professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering; Robert Gustafson, director, Engineering Education Innovation Center; Glenda La Rue, director, Women in Engineering Program; and John Merrill, director, First-Year Engineering Program. Supported by ENGAGE professional development workshops and resources, this team has come up with a unique plan to work with faculty and students to implement the three strategies on campus.

“Ohio State is honored to be a part of the ENGAGE project, and our team looks forward to working with faculty to implement the three research-based strategies. We believe that the ENGAGE project will have a positive impact on our students and will allow us to remain at the forefront of engineering education,” says La Rue, the ENGAGE/Ohio State liaison.

ENGAGE advocates the use of three research-based strategies, particularly in the first two years of college, when engineering students are most at risk to change majors:

  • Improve and increase interaction between faculty and students

  • Illustrate engineering concepts in courses by using everyday examples that are familiar to students

  • Improve students’ spatial visualization skills


These strategies include using everyday engineering examples in the classroom as well as providing a spatial visualization course, an elective course to develop visualization skills among students who exhibit a weakness as identified through the Purdue Visualization Test.

One ENGAGE recommendation is that instructors take the time to illustrate an engineering principle in an engineering course using “Everyday Engineering Examples.” These ready-to-use examples allow the faculty to devote more time toward student-teacher interaction. Research indicates that examples work because they take advantage of the brain’s inclination to match patterns. New information is processed better if is quickly associated with information that is present in the learner’s brain.

By incorporating examples, increasing interaction and improving students’ visualization skills, ENGAGE and Ohio State seek to keep engineering engaging and enlightening.

The Ohio State University is one of 10 colleges participating in the first year of ENGAGE. Others are: Kettering University; Purdue University; Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology; Stevens Institute of Technology; University of Louisville; University of Maryland; University of South Carolina; University of Texas at Austin; and Virginia Tech.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: The ENGAGE/Ohio State liaison, Glenda La Rue,


Tags: College