Some early engineers struggling

Yang Chen, Managing Editor

At a Jan. 15 Faculty Senate meeting, the Pitt-Johnstown Engineering and Computer Science Division Chairman Jerry Samples said that there are more engineering freshmen who are struggling with classes.

“Basically, the situation is while they are in their freshmen year, they will have problems with calculus, physics and chemistry when they take all of them together.

“They need more tutors, supplement instructors or more time with faculty to have good standing in these classes.

“Not all students have problems with those courses. I think the problem is that they are not ready to get prepared as well as them should be.

“It’s most of engineering students who have these classes, and college level classes are harder than high school.

According to Samples, he gave strategies to engineering freshman seminar to balance time, improve study skills, and join study groups.

“Engineering is always hard, no matter where you go. Our principle is that we are not going to make it easy to keep people here, and we want them to become more competitive after they graduate from here. But it’s not too hard, it just what it is everywhere else.

“I think their performance just depends on their motivation. I can’t get motivated for them to give them the information they need is the best I can do,” Samples said.

Marsha Grimminger, chemistry professor teaching Organic Chemistry, General Chemistry and Health Science Chemistry for nursing students, said two-thirds of her classes were engineering students.

“In General Chemistry I, they did well, but, in General Chemistry II, their interest was distributed and their grades will be different. I know some of them are good at math, and some of them just don’t care about subjects so they didn’t do well as Chemistry I.

“In general, I think engineering students did well on both General Chemistry I and II, but when it comes to Organic Chemistry, their math skill doesn’t help a lot, and they have to work hard to be safe in class.

“If they don’t apply themselves in chemistry, they won’t apply themselves as well as they should be. You need to do it with real thinking and understanding.

According to Grimminger, the Natural Science classes are all based on previous knowledge. Students can’t forget what they learned previously.

“Courses build on each other. In the future, when they get a job, they need to bring all the pieces together and that is what they have learned in classes,” Grimminger said.

Freshman Harrison Brumbaugh, a mechanical engineering major, said freshman year is a big adjustment for most people.

“I think it’s very important to manage your time,” Brumbaugh said.

“Even if it’s a hard and big adjustment, it’s a learning curve for the most part. You can work hard and move forward and should not just say, I gave up or Good-bye, then you can settle to succeed,” Brumbaugh said.