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About the IDEAS Project

Every year, approximately 800 students enter into Michigan Technological University’s College of Engineering. They come to, not only study engineering, but to contribute to society through their engineering expertise. We strongly encourage students to develop, not only their quantitative skills, but their critical and creative thinking skills. Within the first-year engineering program, students develop collaborative learning skills while completing team assignments and activities. They hone their quantitative skills through individual assignments. They learn to document their work through different types of technical communication. Engineers are needed who can critically evaluate and develop creative solutions to global problems and issues (climate change, water usage/access, resource distribution). Within the IDEAS project, three modules (Biomechanics, Wind Energy, and Aquaculture) for first-year engineering students have been developed, and the a First-Year Engineering Learning Center has been opened. The Center provides space where students have evening access to tutors, tools to construct their design ideas, and an area where they can take measurements and record data outside of class. Finally, to determine the success of the modules, the students’ critical/creative thinking skills are being evaluated through pre- and post- assessments.

IDEAS Project and First-Year Engineering Learning Center Contacts:

Dr. Gretchen Hein (

Ms. Amber Kemppainen (

NSF Acknowledgement

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0836861.