Engineering's 'Decision Day' Celebrates Students

Dale Thompson, professor and associate department head, welcomes students after they have announced their choice to join the Department of Computer Science and Computer Engineering.
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Dale Thompson, professor and associate department head, welcomes students after they have announced their choice to join the Department of Computer Science and Computer Engineering.

The College of Engineering held its largest Decision Day event ever March 3, when 665 first-year engineering students stepped to the microphone to announce their intended discipline to the cheers of departments' faculty, staff and students. 

For the second consecutive year, mechanical engineering drew the most students, just over 25%, among the nine degrees. The number of students participating in Decision Day increased by 58 students from 607 in spring 2022. 

The boisterous Decision Day tradition began in 2008 along with the First-Year Engineering Program, which is designed to help first-year students build a solid foundation for their engineering education. The college created intentional components in the first-year engineering courses so students can make an informed decision about their major, said Adrienne Gaines, director of the new Engineering One-Stop, which expands the model of First-Year Engineering student services to all undergraduates.

Biomedical engineering students hold up printed faces of faculty members
Students, faculty and staff from the departments of biomedical engineering (above) and chemical engineering (below) cheer for a student after they declared their choice of discipline on Decision Day, held March 3 in Bell Engineering Center.
Chemical engineering students wearing hard hats and clanging a gong celebrate their majors.
First-year students wait in line to announce which engineering major they will pursue
First-year engineering students wait in line for their turn at the microphone to declare their major during Decision Day on March 3.

The First-Year Engineering Program invites faculty from each department come to classes in the fall to provide initial introductions about the nine disciplines. Students visit at least two departments in the spring to interact with faculty, staff, current students and sometimes alumni to help them gain a deeper understanding and finalize selection by Decision Day.  

“This is a great day in the college where faculty, staff and upperclassmen come together to celebrate with first-year students,” Gaines said. “We know our students have a lot of hard work and challenges ahead, so today we celebrate their decisions and welcome them to their departments.” 

Engineering sophomore Abigail Mayhan joined others from the Department of Civil Engineering cheering for students who picked the department and noted how Decision Day helped her last year. 

"It was great to get connected with the new members of our department. It lets them know they're not alone once they start their major-specific engineering courses," Mayhan said.

The final 2023 totals, by department, were:

  • Biological: 29 (4.4%)
  • Biomedical: 65 (9.8%)
  • Chemical: 39 (5.9%)
  • Civil: 64 (9.6%)
  • Computer Engineering: 53 (8%)
  • Computer Science: 123 (18.5%)
  • Electrical: 62 (9.3%)
  • Industrial: 62 (9.3%)
  • Mechanical: 168 (25.3%)
  • Total: 665

Students were able to share the moment with family and friends by the college's livestream of the event.


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