The Roger E. Susi First-Year Undergraduate Engineering Experience

students working on a project

New hands-on program teaches first-year students engineering problem solving

The Roger E. Susi First-Year Engineering Experience will take incoming students out of the lecture hall and into a lab environment in their first two semesters at Case Western Reserve University. The new signature, introductory program, which has been in a pilot phase since spring 2019, will continue to expand and roll out to additional students over the course of the next year.

One course (ENGR 131B) focuses on hands-on individual and team projects, combined with data analysis and programming instruction. Each project is designed with a co-instructor with expertise from a different engineering field. The other course, still in development, will broaden even further as the students work with a community partner and Case Western Reserve’s innovation center, the Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick Sears think[box], on real-world problems.

Program Goals

The Roger E. Susi First-Year Engineering Experience is built on goals to help our first-year students not only experience different aspects of engineering, but also to build skills that will prepare them for future careers. These include:

  • Learning problem solving through hands-on projects  

  • Working in teams

  • Written and oral communication

  • Data analysis

  • Programming using MATLAB

  • Learn about different engineering majors and careers

Program Courses

The Roger E. Susi First-Year Engineering Experience consists of two courses:

  • ENGR 131B: Introduction to Engineering and Program 
    This course consists of six hands-on, discipline specific projects, with a focus on general skill building, computer programming, and friendly competitions. Each module is co-designed by a professor in one of our engineering departments. For example, students explore civil and environmental engineering by designing and testing a water filter and sensor. In another, they learn about biomedical engineering by building on a heart rate monitor.

  • USNA 289T: Community Problem Solving 
    Currently in development, the design course is focused on a single, open-ended design project conducted in partnership with a community partner. The interdisciplinary project includes skill workshops aligned with the project, and an opportunity for students to contribute to solutions for real-life engineering problems in their community.

Roger E. Susi Laboratory

Construction is currently underway on the Roger E. Susi Laboratory, a work space specially designed for this program, with an expected completion in the 2020-21 academic year.

Faculty Director

Kurt R. Rhoads, PhD, PE
Assistant Professor
Division of Engineering Leadership & Professional Practice 
Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering