First-Year Studies

During the first year with the College of Engineering, students at the University of Tennessee complete two, semester long courses called Engineering Fundamentals or "EF". In these courses, students will learn basic physics intended to be relevant across most fields of engineering. Additionally, these courses include a lab where students tackle interesting, hands-on projects in groups to hone in creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving skills. There's also usually a competition between the groups to see who designed and built the best solution. These courses aren't intended to be weed-out courses, but are meant to introduce students to the difficulty of engineering and prepare them for future courses.

Generally, these are the only engineering courses actually taken within the first year. Engineering majors don't start department-specific courses until Sophomore year, with the exception of Aerospace Engineering which requires a 1-credit hour introductory course for Freshmen. Instead, engineering students are expected to start working towards fulfilling General Education, Mathematics, English, Science, and other non-major-specific requirements during the first year.

All engineering students will be assigned an academic adviser to aid with course scheduling, but students will also be assigned to faculty mentors who are professors within their engineering departments. When this assignment occurs is up to the department and varies between each major. Regardless, the faculty mentor is intended to advise on topics directly related to the specific field of engineering, including career choices, internships, research, etc. Students are expected to meet with their faculty adviser at least once a semester.

Choosing a Major

Within the first year of engineering at UT, it is common for students to switch between engineering disciplines as they learn more about each field. During Freshmen year, this is generally an easy process due to the lack of major-specific courses. Switching departments after the first year is generally difficult as each department has its own requirements and courses, and switching can even delay graduation dates. Because of this, students are encouraged to explore the different engineering fields within the first year to avoid changing majors later. The College of Engineering hosts various events intended to expose students to aspects of each of the different engineering departments. Additionally, the Engineering Fundamentals courses also have class days blocked off to showcase the different majors.

While this is all intended to help the students understand which major is right for them, the student is also expected to do some research of their own. The student should consider things like course content, course selection, and what careers are popular among each major.

Engineering Honors Program

Requirements for graduating from the Engineering Honors Program can be found at Joining the honors program has many benefits like early class registration, priority advising, access to honors courses, and a recognizable accolade for resumes. Students who want the benefits of an honors program but don't know if they'll be able to complete the Breadth Requirements, should also consider the Chancellor's Honors Program (CHP). This honors program is not major specific and provides the same priority benefits as the Engineering Honors Program. Students should review the requirements and expectations for both programs and pick the one most suitable for them. The requirements for the CHP can be found here, Students can be a part of both programs at once and graduate from both, although their diploma will only say "Honors" regardless of whether the students choose a specific program or complete both. Being a part of both programs allows students to understand which may be the better option and they can leave a program at any time. Students can maintain honors status and benefits all the way up until applying for graduation, barring they complete the milestone requirements at each grade level, even if they do not plan on graduating with honors.

Internships and Co-ops

Internships and co-ops are a heavily encouraged part of being an engineering student. These opportunities provide students with corporate exposure, real world experience, and competitive pay. If the student preforms well, many of these opportunities will lead to an offer of full time employment. These programs also allow students to experience potential job positions and help guide career choices. These opportunities are most commonly pursued during the Engineering Expos, where companies come to campus to recruit current students for their programs.

For more information on co-ops, internships, and the Engineering Expos, visit the Engineering Professional Practice page.


“College of Engineering: University of Tennessee, Knoxville.” Tickle College of Engineering, University of Tennessee, Knoxville,

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