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Students place well in math bridge program

August 23, 2013
Faculty of the Year winner Nicholas Pohlman teaches bridge program students about research and math.

Faculty of the Year winner Nicholas Pohlman teaches bridge program students about research and math.

Move-in weekend is a stressful time for students and parents alike: An overwhelming schedule of activities, meeting new people and saying goodbye is shared by all incoming freshman.

For the 50-some students who spent a week in the NIU College of Engineering and Engineering Technology (CEET) Math Bridge Program, it also represents a commitment to success, as they end their week by taking a math placement test that could potentially expedite their graduation.

The NIU CEET Bridge Program helps freshman students place into the appropriate math course for their area of study. The students help develop and hone their math skills through an intense, week-long camp.

The ultimate goal of this program is to help students identify their weaknesses in algebra and trigonometry and improve their math placement results, which allows them to test out of lower-level math courses.

Students gain access to course materials, lodging, continental breakfast, lunch and dinner breaks and the Math Placement Exam.

“The major goal why students sign up is to have opportunities to retake the placement test an up their scores,” said Francine St. Clair, director of academic advising for CEET. “I have had students come in with a C placement in Math 110 and, after the camp, take it again and get an A placement into Math 229.”

Additionally, the program helps develop interpersonal skills through participation in class discussion, problem-solving, study groups and being introduced to an engineering cohort.

The NIU Engineering Building in autumn

The NIU Engineering Building in autumn

“My favorite part of teaching this (program) is the enthusiasm students have toward sacrificing and working over their summer. They also get to experience college early,” said Nicholas Pohlman, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering. “They really get to dip their toes in the water and learn what it takes for students to graduate and be successful.”

Several incoming freshman shared the same excitement for not only the Bridge Program, but to get into the NIU engineering program as well.

“I wanted to take this (program) to help move me up in math and get refreshed after coming back from summer,” said Patrick McGinly, 19, an undecided engineering major. “I am especially looking forward to a new year, a fresh start, and a blank slate because nobody I know came to this school.”

He is not the only one who is excited to start the year new.

Natalie Moore, 18, is also looking forward to “getting into the engineering course.” Rose King, 18, is getting involved with the manufacturing/engineering technology program and is expressed appreciation at the Bridge Program for “being a good shift for getting ready for college and getting my brain working.”

The program is not just designed to get students into high math classes and learn how to take advantage of experiencing college work and classroom settings early, but also to be around a group of people all with like minded goals and transitions.

“We are helping gain camaraderie and logistics between (the students) and our college,” St. Clair said. “They are learning how college works, but also meeting new people and building potential friendships for the duration of college with people that are involved in the same areas.”

No matter how it is used, the NIU CEET Bridge Program will continue to help incoming Huskies improve their math scores, learn new college skills and build bridges toward their futures.