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First Year Engineering

With a distinct focus on first year engineering education, the First Year Engineering Program at Northeastern University prepares undergraduate engineers with the fundamental building blocks needed for all College of Engineering majors.  Emphasizing hands-on, integrated design, our program leverages a state-of-the-art maker space to provide our students with an immersive experience into the College of Engineering community.  Through the lens of the engineering design process, the program weaves engineering ethics and research into designs created with CAD and software development programs used by leading industry engineering firms.  Student designs are brought to life through our makerspace’s extensive fabrication tools with support from our upper-class engineering student mentors.  Dedicated first-year teaching faculty with expertise in engineering pedagogical research and a diverse array of engineering backgrounds, focus on creating and evolving teaching practices to ensure that the program scaffolds students in an authentic and fully integrated manner to excel in the rest of their academic scholarship.

Mission of the Department

The mission for the First Year Engineering Program is to inspire our students in their pursuit of an engineering education by fostering a diverse and inclusive learning community centered around project-based experiential learning.

Program Values

To accomplish our mission, we aim to:

  • Provide state-of-the-art engineering education informed by best practices in the industry and pedagogical research.
  • Introduce the fundamentals of problem-solving while cultivating systems thinking.
  • Present engineering problems with authentic complexities that promote value-sensitive design and social and environmental justice.
  • Facilitate a hands-on and teamed learning experience through the access to modern design and fabrication tools in our continually evolving makerspace
  • Provide our students with the skills needed to function as independent, life-long learners.
first year engineering student in first year engineering innovation center
Students work on engineering projects in the First Year Engineering Learning and Innovation Center.
  • Dr. Kris Jaeger and Dr. Rich Whalen conduct ‘Engineering Excellence’ Seminar at The Ohio State University – Jaeger and Whalen were invited to OSU to represent Northeastern University’s ASEE award-winning First-year Program team of educators. They presented on how NU has have transformed our First-year Engineering Program both incrementally and radically in terms of philosophy, curriculum, projects and activities, and in methods of research and assessment, along with managing its growth.
  • MIE Associate Academic Specialist Jennifer Love received a Notable Entry for her submission to the 2013 Vernier Engineering Contest, where teachers showcase their creative uses of Vernier sensors to introduce engineering concepts or engineering practices.
  • Awarded for Contributions – Senior Academic Specialist Bala Maheswaran received the 2013 ASEE “Distinguished Educator and Service Award” in the Physics and Engineering Physics Division.
  • MIE Associate Academic Specialist Jennifer Love has her students build solar-powered model cars to demonstrate the engineering principles they learned while in the classroom.
  • Associate Academic Specialist Jennifer Love was awarded a $2K Grant from NSF’s Everyday Examples in Engineering (E3s) to increase retention by improving the classroom experience.
  • Inaugural service- learning expo showcases community outreach
  • Overcoming Obstacles and Solving Problems – Susan Freeman’s first-year class built a solar-shading device for a sensory garden as part of Northeastern’s Center of Community Service.
  • Beverly Jaeger, Susan Freeman, Rich Whalen, & Rebecca Payne won Best Paper for PIC III as well as Best Paper Overall at the 2010 ASEE Annual Conference for their paper “Successful Students: Smart or Tough?”.
  • Turning the Theoretical into Reality – Under the direction of Beverly Jaeger, a group of first-year engineering students are working to improve the gear used by service dogs to help the disabled. Click here for a video from their meeting with guide dogs Bronson and Jozsi.
  • Freeman, S, Jaeger B, & Whalen, R, (2014). Making a First-year Impression: Engineering Projects that Affect and Connect. Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, Indianapolis, IN.
  • Pfluger, C & Schulte Graham, K, (2014). Introducing Sustainability into Engineering Design: A First Year Course. Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, Indianapolis, IN.
  • Love, J, Freeman, S and Sullivan, D, (2014). What Sticks with First Year Engineering Students and Engineering Faculty in STEM Education Service-Learning Projects, Proceedings of American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, Indianapolis, IN.
  • Forman, S & Freeman, S (2012). The Unwritten Syllabus. Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX.
  • Jaeger B, Whalen, R, & Freeman, S, (2012). Programming is Invisible –or Is It? How to Bring a First-year Programming Course to Life. Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, San Antonio, TX.
  • Freeman, S, Forman, S, Whalen, R, & Jaeger B, (2011). Service Learning vs. Learning Service in Engineering Design. Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
  • Jaeger, BK (Coordinator, Northeastern University) with Estell, J (Ohio Northern), Freeman, S (Northeastern), Moor, SS (Purdue University Fort Wayne), & Whalen, R (Northeastern) (2010 for 2011) Workshop Proposal to American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Approved and Sponsored by First-year Programs Division; pending ASEE approval.
  • Whalen, R, Jaeger, BK, & Freeman, S (2010 for 2011). R U All There? Texting, Surfing, and E-Tasking in the Classroom and its Effects on Learning. Abstract Submitted to American Society for Engineering Education for Annual Conference, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
  • Freeman, SF, Forman, S, Whalen, R, & Jaeger B (2010 for 2011). Service Learning vs. Learning Service in Engineering Design. Abstract Submitted to American Society for Engineering Education for Annual Conference, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
  • Jaeger, B, Whalen, R, Payne, R, & Freeman, S (2010). Successful Students: Smart or Tough?  Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, Austin, TX.
  • Freeman, S, Jaeger B, & Whalen, R, (2006). Active Teaching, Active Learning: Infusing the Design Process in a First-Year Course. Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition, Chicago, IL.
  • Whalen, R., Freeman, S.F., Love, J.O., Grahame, K.S., Hertz, J.L. (2018) Evolution to Cornerstone: Creating a First-Year Culture with a Multifaceted Approach. 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Salt Lake City, UT. June 24-27. Paper ID#22932
  • Freeman, S.F., Pfluger, C., Whalen, R., Grahame, K.S., Hertz, J.L., Variawa, C., Love, J.O., Sivak, M.L., and Maheswaran, B. (2016) Cranking Up Cornerstone: Lessons Learned from Implementing a Pilot with First-Year Engineering Students2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, LA, ISBN 978-0-692-68565-5
  • Love, J.O., Freeman, S.F., Jaeger-Helton, B.K., and Whalen, R. (2015) No lab? No shop? No problem: Intentional design of a First Year Engineering Learning Center with enlightening outcomesAmerican Society for Engineering Education Conference Proceedings, Seattle, WA, Paper ID#13479.
  • Freeman, SF, Whalen, R, Jaeger, BK, & Forman, S (2011). Service-Learning vs. Learning Service in First-year Engineering: If We Cannot Conduct First-Hand Service Projects, is it Still of Value?. Proceedings of the American Society of Engineering Education, Vancouver, BC – won Best Paper
  • Jaeger, BK, Freeman, SF, & Whalen, R, Payne, R* (2010). Successful Students: Smart or Tough. Proceedings of the American Society of Engineering Education, Louisville, KY. – won Best Conference Paper
  • Freeman, SF, Jaeger, BK, & Whalen, R (2009). When the Light Goes On: Illuminating the Pathway to Engineering. Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education, Austin, TX
  • Whalen, R, Freeman, SF, & Jaeger, BK (2008). Agile Education: What We Thought We Knew About our Classes, What We Learned, and What We Did About It. Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education, Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Jaeger, BK, Whalen, R, & Freeman, S (2007). Do They Like What They Learn, Do They Learn What They Like –And What Do We Do About It?Proceedings of the American Society for EngineeringEducation, Honolulu, HI.
  • Estell, J, Jaeger, BK, Whalen, R, Freeman, S & Yoder, JD (2007). Tower of Straws: Reaching New Heights with Active Learning in Engineering Design for the First-year Curriculum. Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education, Honolulu, HI.
  • Brown, S*, Vacca, K*, Reisberg, R., Maheswaran, B, & Jaeger, BK (2006). Freshman Physics Program to Support Women in Engineering. Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education, New England Division, Chicago, IL.
  • Freeman, S, Whalen, R & Jaeger, BK (2006). Active Teaching, Active Learning: Infusing the Design Process in a First-Year Course. Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education, Chicago, IL.
  • Jaeger, BK, Freeman, S, & Whalen, R (2005). Get with the program: Integrated Project Instead of a Comprehensive Final Exam in a First Programming Course. Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education, Portland, OR.
  • Aburdene, M, Jaeger, B, & Freeman, S (2005). Empty-handed Demonstrations in Engineering: Think Inside the Box. Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education, Portland, OR.
  • Whalen, R, Freeman, S, Jaeger, BK, &. Maheswaran, B (2005). Teamwork is Academic: The Gateway Approach to Teaching Engineering Freshman. Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education, Portland, OR.
  • Jaeger, BK, Freeman, SF, & Brougham JC (2004). No Rockets, No Robots: Low Tech-Engineering Design Education with Credibility and Success. Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education, Salt Lake City, UT.
  • Freeman, SF, Jaeger BK & Brougham, JC (2003). More Learning and Less Anxiety in a First Programming Course. Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education, Nashville, TN
  • Jaeger, BK & Freeman, SF, with Abbamonto, C*, Bowman, C*, Durfee, E*, and Hoey, M* (2006). Team Extreme: Pair programming Leverages the Power of Two Minds, Women in Science and Engineering ExpositionNortheastern University, Research Poster Presentation.
  • Freeman, S & Jaeger, BK (2005). Pair Programming Applied Successfully in a First Programming Course. Scholarship of Teaching and Leaning PublicationCenter for Effective University TeachingNortheastern University. Also presented as a Research Poster at the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Symposium.