Skip to content

Congratulations to Michael Allen

The Engineering Fundamentals Program would like to congratulate our own Academic Support Specialist, Michael Allen, on receiving a 2018-2019 Tickle College of Engineering Staff Award.  Michael was honored at the Tickle College of Engineering Awards Banquet on Thursday, April 11, 2019.

Dr. Rachel McCord Earns ASEE Award

Rachel McCord recently won the Thomas C. Evans Award, which recognizes an engineering education publication from a faculty member in the ASEE Southeast Conference.

McCord, a lecturer and research assistant professor in Engineering Fundamentals, presented her paper “Naturalistic Observations of Metacognition in Engineering (NOME): Using Observational Methods to Study Metacognitive Engagement in Engineering” on March 11, at the 2019 ASEE-SE Conference.

The paper is co-authored with Holly Matusovich, associate professor of engineering education at Virginia Tech.

New Engage Leadership Team begins founding year

While most students were still enjoying the last days of summer at home, Engage Leadership Team students moved in to Orange Hall to begin a week of training, collaborating, and event planning for the newest class of Engineering first-year students.  The Engage Leadership Team (ELT) is a new team of upper class engineering students that are committed to providing positive experiences and support for first-year engineering students living in the Engage Living and Learning Community (LLC).  ELT students live in the apartments alongside the first-year students in Orange Hall.  Members of the ELT will provide Engage LLC students with mentoring, academic support, personal and professional development programs, community service activities, and fun events to provide a strong sense of community and support for students in the first year of engineering school.  ELT members will be participating in our new course, EF 302, Engineering Leadership Seminar, which focuses on enhancement of leadership, technical communication, organizational, and mentoring skills,  and development of strategies for academic success and creating an all-inclusive environment.   The ELT Team is geared up for the kickoff of a groundbreaking year for ENGAGE!


 1st day of training for the ELT at Strong Hall’s recently renovated Cowan Cottage


Engineering Leadership Team (ELT) Vols practice defying gravity




EF 152 students display innovative ideas at Summer Project Fair

EF 152 summer semester team design projects were showcased in the Perkins Workshop at the EF 152 Summer Project Fair.  Community service and adaptive device designs were presented in  this culminating event where students shared E-posters, marketing videos, project portfolios, and device prototypes during 5 minute presentations.  Top projects included crutches that were modified with adjustable supports to accommodate going up and down stairs, a microcontroller based height adjustable shelf, and an autonomous delivery bot that uses light sensors to follow a delivery path.

EF 152 Project the “Stair Crutcher” designed by EF 152 students Reid Mason, Nihar Saksena, and Barrett Ray


MAMA Shelf team members Margaret McCarty, Alex Ledezma, Michael Simpson, and Andy Atchley at the Summer Project Fair

EFP Professors Publish Paper on Engaging Students in Homework

Dr. Richard Bennett and Dr. Rachel McCord of the Engineering Fundamentals Program, along with former graduate research assistant, Wenshu Li, and former Director of the Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center, Taimi Olsen, publish a paper together for the June 2018 issue of the American Journal of Engineering Education.  Engage Engineering Students In Homework:  Attribution of Low Completion and Suggestion for Interventions, was published on the results from the NSF grant Increasing Student Engagement in Homework.


Engage Engineering Student In Homework:  Attribution of Low Completion and Suggestions for Interventions

Know Your Engineering Fundamentals Lecturers: Rachel McCord

Rachel McCord and Her Dog

McCord and her dog, Mabel

Rachel McCord is a UT alumnus with a degree in mechanical engineering, so she has a lot of love for Knoxville and the university. She was even a student in Engineering Fundamentals (EF) as an undergrad and taught EF as a graduate student. Her experiences in those classes were what made her want to pursue education as a career to be able to contribute back to the program that was so influential to her career.

McCord loves helping students right when they enter UT to build the skills necessary to be successful in their degree. She enjoys working with students as the figure out what engineering is and find their passion for a specific discipline. In her mind, EF is important because “it gives you the opportunity to learn how to be a life-long learner, which is so critical to being an engineer.”

Below, we asked McCord a few specifics:

Q: How do students succeed in class and make you proud?

A:  “Don’t get discouraged by grades! They are just numbers. One grade will not define you. Instead, let your desire to be an engineer define you. If you focus on learning the principles we are trying to teach you, the grades will be there. Promise!”

Q: Do you have any favorite students?

A: “Aww…now that’s not fair! I guess my favorite students are the ones that come to my office to chat or say hi in the hallways between classes. Anytime I get a chance to learn someone’s name and a bit about them, they become a favorite. Also, I have candy in my office if you stop by!”

Q: What’s your biggest pet peeve of students?

A: “Getting emails requesting extra credit the day before grades are due at the end of the semester. **sigh*** what’s done is done!”

Q: How do you spend your free time?

A: “I do a lot with my friends at church, Fellowship Church. I also have two dogs, Mabel and Amos. I like taking them to the dog park and the fun dog-friendly activities in Knoxville.”

Know Your Engineering Fundamentals Lecturers: Will Schleter

Will SchleterDistinguished Lecturer Will Schleter’s journey to UT began after he accepted a job at the Y-12 plant in Oak Ridge helping them move from paper drawings to computerized design. When working for the government got a little old, Schleter was offered an opportunity to teach Computer Aided Design part-time at UT. From there, he discovered a passion for teaching and working with students.

When the college’s Engineering Fundamentals (EF) program was created, he started teaching EF and has, in his words, been torturing students ever since. No, but really, he truly enjoys teaching EF because it gives him the opportunity to help students get their start. He says it’s as much a challenge for himself as it is for the students.

Below we asked him a few specifics:

Q: Where did you get your undergraduate degree?

A: “I received a BSME in a previous century from the University of Missouri-Rolla, which is now Missouri S&T. It’s a small engineering school that allowed me to escape my hometown of Greenfield, Indiana.”

Q: How can students succeed in class and make you happy?

A: “Not just in my classes but in general, be excited and proactive about learning. Embrace the challenge and learn to work hard and efficiently. Get involved with student societies and groups. Take advantage of co-ops or internships to get some experience and try not to lose sight of your goals.”

Q: What’s your biggest pet peeve?

A: “How many can I list? Stickers that don’t come off. Students that don’t do homework. Egocentric people. Students that don’t do homework. People who repeat things in lists for emphasis. Students that don’t do homework…”

Q: How do you spend your free time?

A: “I like sports and being outdoors. I’m still trying to learn how to hit a golf ball consistently. I am continually maintaining and updating my house, I dabble in woodworking and 3D printing at home, and I’m trying to design and build an electric riding lawnmower.”

Richard Bennett at Panda Base

Get to Know Your EF Staff: Richard Bennett

Richard Bennett is the director of the college’s engage Engineering Fundamentals program. He came to UT because he felt it had a good balance between teaching and research and because of the great people he would come to call his coworkers. He enjoys being able to help a new group of young engineering students get off to a good start every year. He believes that Engineering Fundamentals is important because it is “the beginning of your educational career, and the concepts we teach are used in so many areas.”

Bennett’s favorite student is his daughter, but he believes all other students are equal and a privilege to teach. We asked him a few specifics to help first-year students settle in at UT:

Q: Where did you get your undergraduate degree?
A: I received my Civil Engineering degree from Cleveland State University.

Q: How can students succeed in class and make their professors happy?
A: The best advice I can give is to keep up with the homework, and to get in a study group with a few of your peers.

Q: What’s your biggest pet peeve of students?
A: Students who do not check their work. Take a few seconds to look over your answer and whether or not it makes sense.

Q: How do you spend your free time?
A: With my family and friends. I have two grandchildren who love wearing Vols attire. My wife and I also have friends in Chengdu, China, where we visited this summer to see the Panda Base.

This Q&A is part of a series we’re rolling out to help UT engineering students get to know the Engineering Fundamentals staff in the college.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.

View our Privacy Policy.