H. Al-Qahtani1, H. Barnieh1, S. Aqeel1, M. Salem1, A. Gouba1, B. Ahmed1, G. Salama1, T. Kerr2, M. Zoroub1, D. Hjeij1

1Texas A&M University at Qatar (QATAR)
2Qatar University (QATAR)
To introduce new students to engineering, in their first year of study, they take a course titled ‘The Foundations of Engineering’ at TAMUQ (Texas A&M University at Qatar). It is aimed at helping students gain a clear understanding of ‘what engineering is all about’.

While engineering requires the application of mathematics and scientific knowledge, it is this design process and the practical nature of the problems tackled that best distinguish engineering. Most students enrolled in TAMUQ come prepared with skills in Mathematics and the Sciences, but lack the ability to apply the abstract concepts learned in these subjects to devise a solution to a real life problem.
However, given the wide range of curricula and educational systems adopted in the secondary schools in Qatar, it is not possible to pinpoint the exact reasons for the difficulties faced by students at TAMUQ without a thorough investigation.
Consequently, the goal of this research is to investigate the way Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) material is presented to secondary school students in Qatar and how well engineering activities are integrated into STEM curricula. By properly identifying specific skills needing enhancement in the new students at TAMUQ , it will be possible to restructure the material presented in the ‘Foundations of Engineering’ course to improve the student experience, encourage retention, and increase their competency level.
It is in this context that we are surveying current instructional materials and curricula used in local secondary schools to determine the extent to which engineering and design are integrated in the material, recording teaching methodologies used in STEM courses in a sampling of secondary schools, assessing the exposure of secondary school students to engineering through hands-on design activities, determine competency levels of secondary school students in key engineering skills such as problem solving, independent thinking and team work.

This will be accomplished by reviewing teaching materials, conducting surveys with both teachers and students and observing classes conducted on STEM material in key feeder schools for TAMUQ.

Using the results from this study, we will tailor course material in ‘The Foundations of Engineering’ to meet the deficiencies identified in our study.