New study hopes to change high rate of engineering dropouts

Engineering students must excel in math to stay in the program.

CLEMSON, SC (WSPA) – A group of researchers based out of Clemson are launching a two year study to help fill the need for highly skilled engineers in South Carolina. They’ve pinpointed the problem to the level of preparedness for calculus.

One researcher said a student who places lower than calculus going into college is twice as likely to drop out of the program.  When looking at nationwide statistics, 37 percent of students who attend a four year program will drop out of the engineering program prior to becoming an engineer.  Therefore there are not enough engineers to fill the jobs in South Carolina which in turn hurts the whole economy.

“We know that struggles with calculus is an old, old problem and we need a new, new solution. What I’m hoping is to see what the data tells us about how the kids succeed and how they fail then we will come up with new solutions,” said Tom Peters, Executive Director of SC Coalition of Mathematics and Science.
So with a $300,000 grant and 23 researchers from across the state, the hope is to find this solution by working with four four-year universities, all 16 state technical colleges and 118 high schools in 43 schools districts along Interstate 95 corridor.  Researchers will also interview nearly 9,000 engineering students at universities and colleges across the state.