This week 32 motivated newly-enrolled engineering freshmen are hitting the ground running and experiencing campus life at San Jose State University a couple of weeks ahead of fall semester. They are participating in a new pilot program established by the Davidson College of Engineering – EXCEED (Excellence in Your Engineering Education), a 10-day, full-time residential summer transition program designed to increase engineering student retention and academic success. The program is part of the college’s Engineering Pathways to Success Initiative.
Although these frosh are getting plenty of classroom time – faculty members provide an extensive overview of engineering disciplines and principles as well as basic math and writing prep, it’s not all about academics. Students are immersed in the whole gamut of campus life – from living and dining in the dorms, participating in campus and community tours, study groups and helpful workshops, to checking out campus and community resources. They’re also being introduced to service learning by meeting community leaders and participating in team-based, real-world projects to assist these non-profit groups.
There’s also plenty of time for social activities, like bowling, board game and movie nights. There will even be an information session for parents as part of the final day of activities, “Tips to Support Your College Student,” facilitated by Jared Tuberty, executive director of Engineering Student Success Programs.
EXCEED prepares students for success
Says Tuberty, “We’ve developed the EXCEED program so that participants will discover campus resources and opportunities for involvement, such as the many engineering-related student organizations.
“We’re helping students focus on how to make their first year successful,” adds Tuberty. “Above all, we want them to get excited about engineering, and take what they’ve learned to become leaders among their peers – sharing information with roommates, friends, and classmates throughout the academic year.”
"I, too, am excited by this pilot program,” says Stacy Gleixner, professor of biomedical, chemical and materials engineering and EXCEED academic program director. “We’re providing a lot of resources and activities that will help incoming freshmen jump right in and become part of the college community.
“The math, writing, and engineering components should help them be more confident and competent in their classes. Many of the activities are designed to provide them with the skills needed to get more out of the college experience. They are learning how to organize their time, communicate and interact with their peers and faculty, and take advantage of all the support SJSU has to offer," Gleixner says.
“We are committed to providing a pathway for students to succeed at San Jose State University,” says Ping Hsu, interim dean. “The EXCEED program provides new students with an extraordinary experience that accelerates their acclimation to college and their knowledge of the engineering field and design principles.
“We’re grateful for the financial support from our committed sponsors who helped make this program possible – Agilent Technologies, Xilinx, KLA Tencor, Cisco and Aruba Networks,” Hsu says.
Cassandra Acosta, mechanical engineering senior and peer advisor for the Engineering Student Success Center, feels privileged to be serving as a peer mentor for the new program. Since Acosta personally benefited from a mentorship program through the MESA Engineering Program during her freshman year at SJSU, she knows firsthand the value of mentoring.
“The students are doing so well,” she says. “They’re very enthusiastic about what they’re learning, and are adjusting well to the campus environment and bonding as a group.
“Engineering is hard work,” continues Acosta, “so students benefit from having a strong support system in place to help them stay on track. Once the semester starts – and the pressure of class work kicks in – it’s more difficult to find time to establish friendships, network and make connections. That’s why the EXCEED program is so important – the head start is already having a positive impact on these new students.”