Thursday, May 4, 2017

URSP Student Shaza Ali Researches the Effect of High School Mathematics and Testing on College Engineering and Performance

My name is Shaza Ali and I am a junior year as a student at George Mason University’s Volgenau School of Engineering, studying Biomedical engineering with a concentration in signals and systems. My project is The Effect of High School Mathematics and Testing on College Engineering Performance. For several decades, a trending misconception is that only students with a strong math and science background could pursue an engineering degree and succeed in such career. With the exception of highly selective universities, many engineering programs now admit students at varying levels of mathematics competency. The purpose of my project is to understand the correlation between mathematics and engineering performance, and consequently better serve and prepare students. The effect of high school mathematics and standardized testing on their success in engineering programs and possible retention in the program is being studied.

This project interested me because growing up in Egypt with a poor quality of life and out-of-date technology, especially in the educational and engineering fields, made want to learn all about new technologies and techniques. Back in Egypt, only high school students with grades above 95% in mathematics and scientific subjects are allowed and accepted in engineering schools, any students who gets a grade below 95% automatically are not accepted in any engineering school. After Dr. Bray introduced the idea to me, we thought this project is a good fit for me. This program will be the first and most important step towards achieving my long-term goals and beginning my career towards my engineering field. 

So far this semester, I collected data for all bioengineering students have entered the program since it started in 2011. Once the data have been collected, I started organizing the data by creating a table. The table is consisting of several columns, including high school mathematics classes and grades, SAT scores, math placement test results, mathematics and engineering classes and respective grades taken at Mason, and graduation rates. And I meet with my mentor in a weekly basis to stay on track and do data analyzing to eventually find out the results and come up with the conclusion.