This paper examines whether a technology-rich transportation engineering experience generates interest among college freshman students towards transportation related degrees and careers, specifically, whether it increases interest in civil engineering. Louisiana Tech’s first-year engineering experience provides relevant, project-focused education for over 500 students each year and an opportunity to introduce transportation-related projects. The six semester-hour, three-course sequence, called “Living with the Lab,” boosts experiential learning through student ownership of inexpensive laboratory equipment. In one section of the Living with the Lab course, a transportation engineer visited the class and the students were led through a technology-rich transportation engineering activity. They used an ultrasonic distance sensor to build a device to measure traffic speed. At the end of the term, students were asked to rate their interest level in 22 fields of study (one of which is civil engineering) from “not at all interested” (1) to “extremely interested” (7). Asking for interest level in each field provides finer resolution than only looking at which major a student selects. Interest levels in civil engineering of the section that did the transportation engineering activity were slightly higher than those of the other sections, but the difference was not statistically significant.

Meeting Name

7th Annual First Year Engineering Experience Conference--Enhancing the First Year of Engineering Education, FYEE 2015 (2015: Aug. 2-4, Roanoke, VA)


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Career choice; Interest; Technology; Transportation

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version

Final Version

File Type




Publication Date

04 Aug 2015