First-Year Engineering 2020 Impact Report

This annual report outlines the program's activities and results in numbers for student retention and transition-to-major as well captures the many highlights of the academic year.

Related: 2019 Impact Report

The School of Engineering Education works closely with the Office of the Dean of the College of Engineering to make the vision of the College a reality starting in the First-Year Engineering Program. We want to take a moment to acknowledge the support and work of the College and School leaders.

Dean Mung Chiang

Dr. Mung Chiang
Dean of the College of Engineering

Since taking office in January 2017, Dr. Chiang set the course for the future of the College of Engineering at Purdue through his vision summarized in “The Pinnacle of Excellence:”

  • Never complacent with anything less than the pinnacle, we will aim higher and punch above our weight.
  • As the largest engineering college among the top 10 in the nation, we will tackle the challenges of scale and seize opportunities enabled by scale.

Interim Dean Mark Lundstrom

Dr. Mark Lundstrom
Interim Dean of the College of Engineering

Alina Alexeenko

Dr. Alina Alexeenko
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education

Dr. Mark Lundstrom was the Acting Dean of Engineering while Dean Mung Chiang is on leave in Washington D.C. serving as the science and technology adviser to the secretary of state. Continuing with Dr. Chiang's vision of the Pinnacle of Excellence, Dr. Lundstrom and Dr. Alexeenko guided the College through the uncertain times brought by the COVID-19 global pandemic. They greatly supported the efforts from the College of Science and First-Year Engineering to make the First-Year Engineering Program available online for new beginners in Fall 2020. 

Dr. Donna Riley

Dr. Donna Riley
Kamyar Haghighi Head of the School of Engineering Education

Dr. Audeen Fentiman
Acting Associate Head of the School of Engineering Education, 2019-20

Dr. Matt Ohland
Associate Head of the School of Engineering Education

The School of Engineering Education and its leaders embrace the First-Year Engineering (FYE) core value of “Students First”, and work together with every single member of the FYE program, the College and the University to materialize the vision of the School in the FYE program:

"The School of Engineering Education (ENE) envisions a more inclusive socially connected and scholarly engineering education. This implies that we radically rethink the boundaries of engineering and the purpose of engineering education. Our mission to transform engineering education based on scholarship and research rests on three pillars: Re-imagining engineering and engineering education, creating field-shaping knowledge, and empowering agents of change."


To advise First-Year Engineering students with the best resources available at Purdue so they can be successful. This is accomplished via the First-Year Engineering Academic Advising Team that always puts students first.


To prepare students with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to be successful in their engineering majors at Purdue. This is accomplished with a curriculum consisting of 29-33 credit-hours.


To retain the best students with the potential to be Purdue engineers. This is done via 4 credit hours of engineering coursework in the fall and spring and by allowing students to make an informed decision about their choice of engineering major.

Dr. Isabel Jimenez-UsecheWhat a year we just had! Not in a million years we would imagine that Spring 2020 will surprise us with a global pandemic that turned our lives upside down, forced us to rapidly change our ways of living and interacting with each other and, reminding us of the value of what we usually take for granted.

The academic year 2019-20 started with many of plans to continue to work on updating the ENGR courses and offerings. In Fall 2019 we successfully offered the combined version of ENGR courses for the 2nd time. We worked on improving pedagogical practices and materials with new projects into the courses, and we introduce the use of new grading technology. It was an accreditation year, so we proved the material needed for the accreditation and actively participated in the accreditation process by meeting with the evaluators from ABET. We passed the ABET accreditation with flying colors as the FYE program was recognize by ABET as one of the strengths of the undergraduate engineering programs at Purdue.

Then the pandemic hit in March and everything changed. COVID-19 cases started to raise in the US, and with Spring break upon us, and the mobility that students will get during that week, we decided to move the FYE ENGR courses to online for the 2 weeks after Spring break. Short after that decision, Purdue decided to move to online for the rest of the semester. Instructors, course coordinators, GTAs, all jumped into action to rethink how the end of the semester would look like, under the following principles:

  1. Prioritize students’ success: by attending to student’s needs, providing resources and keeping students engaged in their courses and with their instructors, while continuing the courses online.
  2. Maintain quality of instruction: by covering all learning objectives for the course and delivering high quality instruction in multiple ways (videos, WebEx, skype, Zoom, other)
  3. Provide and manage resources: by having the same instructors and same teaching and instructional team supporting the class, as usual. By acquiring the technology necessary to continue to apply research-based pedagogical practices at a distance.

The academic year ended with much uncertainty of what was about to come, but with the determination to be as prepared as we could to continue to serve the students in the best way possible, as we always have. And that is how we received the Fall of 2020, embracing the new reality of being socially distant from our students but always connected. Putting on our thinking caps and providing excellent solutions to the current challenges as only Purdue Engineers know how to. Academic advisors worked diligently through the Summer of 2020 to welcome our new students in the first all virtual STAR. Faculty and staff redesigned and pilot online versions of the ENGR FYE courses that the new students would take in the Fall. We put in place a plan to build community among our FYE students even though we were apart. It has been a team effort and we are sure that it will pay off.

So welcome academic year 2020-21! You have given us the greatest engineering challenge of all and we are riding this wave with our heads high, with all of our creativity and problem-solving skills and more than ever, putting students first!

Dr. Isabel Jimenez-Useche
Assistant Head of First-Year Engineering

Summary of Accomplishments for AY 2019-20


  • In summer 2019, transition to advise students for batch registration.
  • In summer 2020, virtually advising xxxx new engineering students.
  • Receiving an overall satisfaction rating of 98% from our students (from 5,983 responses from academic advising appointments, in-person).
  • Continue student support through the Academic Success Program and the Student Success Initiative.


  • Successfully moving the ENGR courses to virtual format in the middle of the Spring semester.
  • Designing and introducing new projects in the ENGR courses
  • Improving exam design, delivery and grading in the ENGR courses
  • Continue to partner with external clients for projects in the ENGR courses
  • Record enrollment in ENGR summer classes offered virtually.
  • FYE program recognized as a strength of the CoE at Purdue in ABET report.


  • Design and pilot a student’s success initiative in the ENGR courses
  • Even in times of pandemic, keep a retention rate of 91.7% of our FYE students after their first year in engineering at Purdue.
  • Building the FYE community plan and site for residential and online learners.
  • First Spring Engineering Majors fair in Spring 2020
  • Moving to a holistic CODO process for evaluation of CODO applicants into FYE.

Enrollment Data

Fall 2020 we received our largest class ever, with 2,455 First-Year Engineering students. This includes 372 online learners.

  Fall 2014 Fall 2015 Fall 2016 Fall 2017 Fall 2018 Fall 2019 Fall 2020
# Applications 15,562 17,125 17,736 17,190 18,819 14,824 17,591
# Admitted 8,270 9,165 8,806 8,180 9,709 9,373 10,428
# Matriculations 1,771 1,925 2,077 1,966 2,343 2,306 2,455

Gender Distribution

We are seeing a steady percentage of women in the FYE cohort, about 26%. With the increase in the number of incoming students, we are also seeing an increase in the number of women in the program.

Gender Fall 2014 Fall 2015 Fall 2016 Fall 2017 Fall 2018 Fall 2019 Fall 2020
Female 443 549 548 543 643 592 643
Male 1,328 1,376 1,529 1,423 1,700 1,174 1,812


We continue to attract Hosiers and students from all around the country at a very consistent rate. In Fall 2019, we saw a significant increase in the number of international students, and we continue to have a significant number of international students in Fall 2020 despite travel restrictions due to COVID-19.

  Fall 2014 Fall 2015 Fall 2016 Fall 2017 Fall 2018 Fall 2019 Fall 2020
Resident 599 624 710 711 716 689 696
Non-Resident 874 1,010 1,042 1,053 1,422 1,246 1,474
International 298 291 325 202 205 371 285

Underpresented Minorities

Since Fall 2019, the number of URM students appears to be decreasing despite an increase in cohort size. Particularly in Fall 2020, we saw lower numbers of African American and Latino students.

  Fall 2014 Fall 2015 Fall 2016 Fall 2017 Fall 2018 Fall 2019 Fall 2020
URM 131 145 152 185 231 227 200


Fall 2014 Fall 2015 Fall 2016 Fall 2017 Fall 2018 Fall 2019 Fall 2020
2 or more 46 52 80 82 122 113 137
American Indian or Alaska Native 2 3 1 2 2 4 2
Asian 171 179 178 186 351 293 391
Black or African American 33 39 38 33 52 41 23
Hispanic or Latino 88 85 85 119 135 138 126
International 299 292 329 203 208 371 285
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander 0 3 2 0 2 2 2
Unknown 49 87 82 18 26 36 60
White 1,083 1,185 1,282 1,323 1,446 1,308 1,429

New Beginners' Profile: Pre-College Scores


Fall 2014 Fall 2015 Fall 2016 Fall 2017 Fall 2018 Fall 2019 Fall 2020
Avg ACT Score 30.2 30.6 30.7 31 31.3 31.8 31.8
Avg HS GPA 3.86 3.89 3.91 3.92 3.78* 3.79 3.80
Avg New SAT Math N/A N/A N/A 714 729 738 735
Avg New SAT Reading & Writing N/A N/A N/A 670 679 638 684
Avg New SAT Total N/A N/A N/A 1381 1402 1414 1410

*Enrollment Management changed how they calculated unweighted GPA beginning Fall 2018

FYE Students Attending Boiler Gold Rush International
Photo: Fall 2019, BGR International FYE Participants

The First-Year Engineering Academic advising office advises all First-Year Engineering students except students participating in the Goss Scholars learning Community (former Honors program). Students in the Honors and/or Goss scholar Engineering Learning Community are advised by the Engineering Honors advising Office.

During the academic year 2019-20, the First-Year Engineering Office advised 2728 first-year Engineering students. Results from our checkout satisfaction survey, which students answer after any FYE advising meeting, show that students leave the FYE advising office highly satisfied and with the sense that they got the help they needed.

  Fall 2018 Fall 2019 Spring 2019 Spring 2020 Summer 2019
% Satisfaction 98% 98% 97% 98%* 96%
# Responses 2,335 3,086 1,456 1,157* 1,740

*Data collected until March 13th. No data was collected for the rest of the Spring 2020 semester.

Student Feedback

We received comments from 565 students about their advising appointments. Here is what students had to say:

FYE Advising Wordle

“He helped drastically with my problems with scheduling for next semester and provided many options for me.”

“Best Advisor I met with ever.”

“He worked with me one-on-one during walk in hours to help me get the classes I needed in my schedule. It was extremely helpful! Thanks so much, Mr. K!!”

“Helped me very thoroughly in setting up a plan for getting into my major and was very kind while doing so.”

“She was very helpful in laying out the potential options that I had going forward into next semester.”

“This is the second time that I have met with Mr. T for scheduling classes, the first time being S.T.A.R. day. Just like the last time, I felt entirely comfortable and well informed about all decisions I was making with classes. Mr. T is the best advisor I have experienced and I appreciate all of his help.”

“D really helped me to figure out my path for the spring semester, I am planning on moving more on a design focused path and he helped me figure out if I would be able to stay in my VIP learning community even if I was taking design classes rather than pure engineering.  Thank you again D!”

First-Year Engineering Academic Success Program

In Spring 2019, the FYE advising office relaunched the Academic Success Program, formerly known as G.R.I.P. (Grade Recovery and Improvement Program). The purpose of this program is to mentor 2nd semester FYE students who are on probation, to improve their grades, get out of probation and complete the FYE successfully. In Spring 2020, we had 16 students participating in the program. By the end of Spring 2020, all participants improved their grades and 10 of them were out of probation. Spring 2020 was the first time that the program sought out students (upperclassmen) in each major that matched the engineering interest of the FYE students, to act as peer mentors for those students struggling academically. For more information visit the website:

2020 Virtual Summer Transition, Advising, and Registration (VSTAR)

In this time of global pandemic, the Summer Transition, Advising and Registration (STAR) program moved to be completely online. During 8 weeks in Summer 2020, from May 13th to July 10th, the FYE academic advising office advised 2,144 new beginners. Many students had to be advised two or three times due to ongoing changes in dates and/or policies during the summer 2020 because of COVID-19. This effort took 14 academic advisors, 11 of them from the FYE advising office, 2 from the College of Engineering Dean’s office and one from the MDE undergraduate program.

FYE Advising by The College of Engineering Goss Scholars/Engineering Honors Program

The College of Engineering Goss Scholars/Engineering Honors Program student services advised 285 students during the 2019-2020 academic year.  These students were part of the College of Engineering Program and the Do More in Four initiative.  In the summer of 2020, Goss Scholars/Engineering Honors Program student services advised 397 new beginning students in Engineering. Among the 2020 new beginners, 314 are enrolled in the ENGR 16100/16200 course sequence, and 65 are enrolled in the ENGR 13300 (VIP) and 17911/17912 course sequence. 

FYE Students attending BRG; posing on Neil Armstrong Statue
Photo: Summer 2019 FYE Early Start Students in ENGR-131.

  Fall 2018 Cohort Fall 2019 Cohort
Transitioned to engineering major on time (2 semesters) 77.3% 83.6%
Completed FYE requirements but stayed in FYE program 3.6% 2.0%
3rd semester students in FYE program  9.9% 6.5%
CODO out of engineering 4.1% 4.1%
Left Purdue 5.1% 3.8%


FYE Retention Data


Staff and Faculty at Engineering Fair
Photo: Fall 2019 - ENE Faculty, Staff, and Academic Advisors meet incoming FYE students at the College of Engineering Fall School Fair

One of the major reasons that students chose Purdue over other Universities is the opportunity to have a whole year to explore different engineering majors and made a decision about their engineering major. Retention is also increased when students have the opportunity to make an informed decision about their engineering major. This is why in the recent years multiple colleges and university have decided to adopt a first-year model for their incoming students.

Transition to Major process (t2M) is the process that moves FYE students to their engineering majors once they successfully complete all of the requirements. This process happens three times a year, at the end of the Fall (December), Summer (August) and Spring (May) terms.

During the Fall of 2019, the FYE program partnered with the Schools of Engineering to offer 58 Engineering your Major events for all FYE students. In Spring 2020, we held the 1st College of Engineering School Fair, with the participation of all the Schools of Engineering. This event gave the FYE one more chance to connect with the engineering majors, ask questions, compare and gather more information about the engineering major, just before the deadline to submit their choices of major.

At the end of Spring and Summer, 1,972 FYE completed the program and were eligible to transition to their major. Consistent with previous years, 45% of them changed their choice of major from the moment that they applied to Purdue to the actual major that they moved to after the T2M process.

The figure below shows the way FYE students from the Fall 2019 cohort changed their major choices during their time in the FYE program at Purdue:

T2M Transition to Major

Activities, Timelines, and Considerations

1. Exploration and Learning


  • Career Exploration Videos
  • Out-of-Class Career Exploration Activities
  • Engineering Your Major (EYM) Sessions
  • Purdue College of Engineering School Fair
  • Self-Reflection about Major Choice

2. Formal Request


  • Fall Semester: Late February
  • Spring Semester: Late September
  • Summer Semester: Late July

3. Placement After Grades Posted


  • Based on Academic History
  • Grade Point Average (GPA) and Engineering Admissions Index (EAI)
  • Review by the Discipline

Most programs accept all students; a few are competitive.

Program related

Updated list of FYE selective: The First-Year Engineering Curriculum Committee updated the list of FYE selectives, previously known as Science selectives. During their second semester at Purdue, FYE students have the opportunity to choose their FYE selective, depending on which major are they more inclined to choose. The list of FYE selectives includes CS-15900, CHM-11600, BIOL 11100 and BIOL 11000.

New model for ENGR-103 courses - 5 weeks, 1-credit ENGR-10301 courses “cross-listed” with 300-level courses: ENGR-103 course are 1-credit courses that are offered to expose FYE students to any topic of interest in engineering. Last Spring, Dr. Alexandra Boltasseva from ECE worked with FYE to offer three, 1-credit ENGR-103 courses to FYE students. The 3 courses were “cross-listed” with one of her ECE electives. She was able to divide the content of her elective course in 3 parts and adjust expectations for FYE students. This way, she was teaching her 300 level ECE elective while FYE students got exposed to the field. FYE students were able to register for as many 1-credit courses as they wanted, adding flexibility to this approach.  This is the first time that the ENGR-103 courses are offered “cross-listed” with a 300-level course. This is a great model to expose FYE to specific topics in engineering capitalizing on the elective courses that instructors in the schools already teach.

Goss Scholars Learning Community: In Fall 2020, the Goss Scholars Learning Community was created to house the former Engineering Honors Learning Community and the Do More in Four (DMi4) program. The Goss Scholars Learning Community is a year-long experience, designed for students who have demonstrated scholastic excellence. In Fall 2020 they offered 2 tracks, one through the ENGR honors courses (ENGR-161 and ENGR-162) and one through the VIP ENGR courses (ENGR-133, ENGR-17911 and ENGR-17912)

Spring 1st Purdue College of Engineering School Fair: On February 4th 2020, we had the 1st Purdue College of Engineering School Fair. The Fair was put together to give FYE students another opportunity to connect with the schools of engineering and know the engineering majors before choosing their major. All the Schools of Engineering at Purdue participated. Other programs in the CoE participated as well: Global Engineering Program and the Office of Professional Practice, among others.

FYE program recognized as a strength of the CoE at Purdue in ABET report: In December of 2019, the CoE received the final report from the ABET accreditation that took place during Fall 2019. The ABET report, identified the FYE program as an Institutional Strength: “The First-Year Engineering Program in the School of Engineering Education is the entry point for all beginning engineering students at Purdue. Here, approximately 2,500 new students (both freshman and transfer), get grounded in the fundamentals, and discover their passion for engineering. As the program is administered by the School of Engineering Education, the latest research in engineering education techniques is utilized. This provides the best educational experience for the students, and also provides faculty in the College of Engineering who participate in the First Year Program an opportunity to experience the practical use of the best research in
teaching and learning.”

Batch registration for FYE students: For the first time at Purdue, Fall 2019 new beginners in FYE received their schedule for the Fall 2019 semester through the batch registration process. In the batch registration process, students provide a list of the courses that they desire to take, with alternatives, and an algorithm from the Registrar’s office place them in their courses. This is different from the previous approach, in which students were able to select the day and time of their courses. As part of the implementation of the batch registration process, students during STAR completed the “Course Request Form” together with their advisors, during their advising appointments.

COVID related

Survey to assess student’s wellbeing and needs in Spring 2020: The first week of classes after Spring break, the FYE program quickly surveyed the students in ENGR-132, ENGR-162, ENGR-17912 and EPCS-121 to do an assessment on their resources and challenges with the sudden change to online. We collected data on location and time-zone of students, job or caregiving responsibilities, access to computers and internet, and preparedness to study online.  The results of the survey allowed us to understand the student’s situation and adjust our courses accordingly. This resulted a successful end of the semester for many students, and a great appreciation for the instructors who did above and beyond to support the students.

Development of online courses due to COVID: During Summer, the instructors, faculty and instructional support team in FYE worked to develop online versions of ENGR-131, ENGR-132 and ENGR-133. The three courses were piloted in the summer, to make sure that we were prepared to receive our largest class of new beginners, in the middle of the pandemic, with an online mode of instruction. The summer courses were a success a good foundation to deliver and improve the Fall courses. This rapid design and implementation of online courses was possible thanks to the support from the School of Engineering Education, The College of Engineering and a grant from a private donor.

Holistic review of FYE CODO applications: In Spring 2020 the FYE program implemented a holistic approach to review the CODO applications. In addition to their transcripts, students were asked to answer questions about motivation to be engineers, grit, and use of resources at Purdue.

Virtual STAR for everyone: For the first time, all new beginners in FYE had their STAR appointment virtually. The FYE advising office advised 2,144 new beginners around the world. Kudos to the hard work of the FYE advisors and others who helped and worked around the clock, to warmly welcome the class of 2024 the past summer.

Building community among FYE students during the pandemic: During Fall 2020, we put in place a variety of activities/resources for FYE students to find each other and to find relevant information to be successful. We engaged students in a total of 14 activities and had an FYE community site for FYE students, advisers, faculty, and staff to connect. We were able to make a difference in the college experience of the FYE students that participated in the activities and Brightspace site.

SHRV space as a learning space for in-person classes: The SHRV C111 classroom, where the ENGR FYE honors courses are taught, was re-design to be able to hold in-person classes during the pandemic. Strategically placed tables and chair, and plexiglass dividers were part of the redesign of the classroom. Thanks to this effort led by Dr. Eric Nauman during the Summer, SHRV C111 was able to house all ENGR-161 sections and the VIP sections of ENGR-133,  for a total of 360 FYE students who received classes in-person in Fall 2020.

Modified Enrollment Management policy for T2M due to COVID: In Spring 2020, part of  the Enrollment Management Policy for T2M was modified in response to the Universities decision to allow grades of P/NP for any course due to the pandemic. As a result, all students who completed the FYE program by the end of the Spring were admitted to all schools of Engineering except AAE. AAE still conducted a holistic review of applications and accepted a limited number of students. The regular Enrollment Management policy was back in effect starting Summer 2020.

Courses related

Designing and introducing new projects in the ENGR courses: In Fall 2019, ENGR-131 and ENGR-132 introduced two new projects to the courses. The Bike Share Data Analysis project, designed for the Engineering in the World of Data learning community, was rolled into all sections of ENGR-131 to strengthen data analysis and data-based decision-making processes. In ENGR-132, for their final mathematical modeling project using MATLAB, students had to model enzyme behavior, and make recommendations, for a new commercial detergent.

Improving exam grading in the ENGR courses:  ENGR-132 introduced the use of Gradescope to grade all assignments and exams in the course.  Gradescope has been known for expediting grading and providing better feedback to students. The FYE Instructional Support Team put together training for graders and students, for the successful transition to the new grading tool.

Moving away from evening exams in Elliot: Quick and innovative exam design has allowed ENGR-132 to deal with the challenges of teaching the course online and also move away from evening exams. ENGR-132 exams were typically held in the evenings, in Elliot Hall of Music. During Spring 2020, faculty and coordinators worked together to design an exam template that provides a unique set of questions to each student. As a result, there is no need to administer the exam to all the students at the same time, eliminating the need of evening exams in large venues. We envision to continue to use this assessment approach even in post-pandemic times.

Continuing to partner with external clients for projects in the ENGR courses: Just as in the past, the FYE ENGR courses continue to partner with external partners to provide FYE students with an authentic engineering experience.

  • Students in ENGR-131 worked with Texas Instruments microcontrollers kits, Kimberly-Clark, the Tumani Innovation Center, and the The Ben and Maxime Miller Child Development Laboratory School.
  • Students in ENGR-161 worked with L3HARRIS
  • Students in EPICS (EPCS 11100 and EPCS 12100) worked with multiple community partners
  • Students in VIP (ENGR-17911 and ENGR-17912) worked with multiple research partners

Development of videos for online learners and T2M: The instructional Support Team developed 2 videos about how to be an effective online learner and Netiquette. We also created videos about introduction to career exploration and the T2M process. The videos are available to anyone at Purdue, on request. Contact:

Record enrollment in ENGR summer classes offered virtually: In Summer of 2020 the FYE program saw record enrollment in ENGR-131, ENGR-132 and ENGR-133 courses. ENGR-131 alone had 140 students registered for the course, all taking it in a virtual synchronous mode.

Python in ENGR-133: In Fall 2019, ENGR-133 included python as part of the content for the course. Python was meant to complement the computational tools that the FYE students learn. In the past, the course only included MATLAB. Dr. Oakes. Zoltowski and Brophy from ENE, with the support of FYE GTAs, work to develop lectures, assignments and grading rubrics.

Office hours in the dorms: ENGR-133 and ENGR-195 worked together with Residence halls to offer office hours for the courses in the residence halls late at night (from 8-10pm). Research has shown that this practice increases the likelihood of students taking advantage of office hours. As professor Oakes says:  “Bringing the learning into the resident’s halls allow students to come in their pajamas to office hours.” That means, there is no excuse now!