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Student Instructional Leadership Team (SILT) Helps Train First-Year Engineers

In January, Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. student Monica Okon led an orientation session for new TAs as a member of SILT, the Student Instructional Leadership Team Helps Train First-Year Engineers for the Department of Engineering Education.  

Monica’s leadership in training new TAs is one example of the innovative ways  Ohio State’s First Year Engineering program embeds experienced engineering students in its programs, courses, and training activities. Opportunities to demonstrate leadership and practice communicating benefit both the GTA speakers, the new TAs as they become familiar with their roles, and the first year students who learn from the example of their more experienced peers.

Among SILT’s Mission Objectives for 2015-2016 are the following:

  • Curriculum enhancements.  Up to four SILT members also serve on the First-Year Engineering Program Advisory Committee to help review and revise the program’s learning objectives.
  • Provide professional development opportunities for student employees. The FE Program offers professional development opportunities to student employees through activities and services provided by SILT.
  • Create consistency. The First Year Engineering Program serves over 2,000 students every year and employs nearly 200 student employees. SILT wants each student to receive an experience consistent with other students in the program and strives to provide student employees with the tools to make that happen. Consistency within sections, between sections of the program, and from year-to-year is SILT’s end goal.

Meeting the Learning Expectations and Preferences of Today’s Students

The SILT team and other members of the student assistant teaching team are particularly helpful in addressing the learning and interaction expectations of today’s “millennial” students.  Millenials, students born after 1981, arrived in colleges and university classrooms by 2000. 

Rivera and Huertas (2006) describe some of the unique characteristics of millennial students:

As a generational cohort, the millennials show a number of characteristics and preferences that in some instances mimic the values of previous generations, while in others have never been observed before. Millennials are noticeably self-confident, optimistic, multitasking, and more independent than their previous generation (Howe and Strauss, 2000). Their experiences, values and preferences will likely shape a different world and challenge old paradigms.” 

The authors go on to say, “The gap between the millennials and previous generations is bigger than the gap between the baby-boomers and Genexers. One of the main causes is the vertiginous pace of technological development and change that creates a divide embodied in the millennial generation.” (2006). 

Experienced engineering students within the Department of Engineering Education at The Ohio State University offer first year engineering students the support they need to learn complex course material in order to thrive in the engineering program.

SILT teamSILT members

Current SILT Members

First-Year Engineering:

Graduate Teaching Associates (GTAs): Cody Allison, Robert Gammon Pitman, Monica Okon

Undergraduate Teaching Assistants (UTAs): Chris Baehr, Danielle Meyer, Kristen Nemeth, Nick Peterson, Rachel Sylvester

First-Year Engineering – Honors:

Graduate Teaching Associates (GTAs): Stefan Heglas, Andy Theiss

Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (UTA): David Frank, Drew Phillips