TTU Engineers a Twist to Dorm Life

Students moving into Tennessee Technological University's Marshall Hall won't worry about finding common ground with their roommates this fall.

About 150 engineering majors will live in Marshall Hall during the inaugural semester of the Engineering Residence Hall Program, designed to help students have happier, more successful college experiences.

"We want to create a living environment with a strong sense of community spirit, camaraderie and involvement," said Kenneth Hunter, director of the university's basic engineering program. "We hope this leads to even better grades and more contentment with university life."

About 100 entering freshmen and 50 current students selected Marshall Hall, a coed dorm with males and females on separate floors. Four upperclassmen will serve as live-in program coordinators, conducting study sessions and managing group activities.

Organizers will encourage study groups and mentor relationships to help students learn from other students. Theme dorms have proven successful in helping students adjust and succeed at universities across the country.

In Marshall Hall, individual rooms will be wired to the campus computer network so students can bring their own computers for use in their rooms. Students will also have 24-hour access to a dorm lab with 10 computers and frequently used engineering software.

Life won't be all studying and sleep. Coordinators will schedule speakers, contests, social events and faculty/student interaction outside the classroom. Activities for fall may include field trips and dinners with engineering faculty and speakers.

"Study skills classes will be an important part of the program, but we're looking to balance academic and social functions," said Hunter. "It's all part of preparing students thoroughly for university life and for jobs later on."

Residents will be required to maintain a 2.0 grade point average and attend a minimum number of special activities each semester. As the program grows, a random selection will be made if more than 150 students apply.

"This is a trial program," said Hunter. "If it's successful, we hope to expand and make it available to more students."

Nine other university residence halls are already hardwired for individual computer use in each room, and housing officials expect to wire the remaining dorms in the near future. Students are able to hook up their own phone modems and computers in any dorm.

"Not only will this be a supportive learning environment, but bringing together students with a common interest should create a dynamic forum for ideas," Hunter said.

For more information about the program, call Hunter at 372-3175.