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School of Science & Engineering

Students in the iTEC program participate in a wind turbine competition.Students in the iTEC program participate in a wind turbine competition.

Innovation through Engineering and Computer Science (iTEC)

What is iTEC?

Innovation through Engineering and Computing, or iTEC, is a multi-year, National Science Foundation grant (formerly called “Foundations for STEM Success”) awarded to Merrimack College to design and implement retention initiatives for all first year engineering and computer science students.  The program is designed to help students through their first academic year, promoting graduation rates and successful careers for young engineers and computer scientists.  


Studying engineering and computer science is demanding!   Merrimack is providing academic support and community building for first year students to feel confidence in their area of academic interest.  It allows students to collaborate with other first year engineers and computer scientists, upper-class peer mentors, and faculty from the very beginning of the student’s academic program.   


Our Program has four proven and effective initiatives :

1.  Living & Learning Community  - You will live in a dormitory community where students:

  • are part of a supportive environment living among other engineers and computer scientists;
  • attend specialized workshops and seminars designed for them;
  • have in-dorm nightly tutoring resources available; 
  • participate in professional skill building sessions and social activities

2.  A “Gateway” Introductory Course in Engineering or Computer Science which includes: 

  • an interdisciplinary team project, such as building a wind-turbine prototype, working with students in various engineering or computer science majors;
  • soft skills such as communication, leadership and team work;
  • classroom and lab components covering introductory topics in engineering and computer science.

·      3.  Peer and Faculty Mentoring Program which:

  • assigns a upper-class peer mentor to act as a resource to ask questions about curriculum and career outcomes; 
  • provides workshops in time management, interviewing skills, working in teams;
  • includes evening, drop-in tutoring sessions four evening per week in engineering and computer science topics;
  • provides guest speakers from industry and field trips to local technology companies.  

 4.  A Summer Intensive “Bridge” Program* which has three  goals:  

  • to provide a math review and skills booster to help with first year math placement; 
  • to introduce you to your major via field trips, invited speakers, hands-on activities, student competitions;
  • to form a sense of community with your peers through lots of recreational and social events throughout the two week residential program.

*Required for selected students

Interested in becoming a peer mentor?

Peer Mentor Application (pdf download)



Please contact Program Director Maureen Sakakeeny, for more information.

Office:  Mendel 152 
Phone: 978-837-5150
Email:  sakakeenym





Quotes regarding the success of Living Learning Communities:

  • Retention

    “The data show that the first-year retention rate of students living in the Quad or Andrews Hall exceed that of students who lived elsewhere on campus 98.6 percent, respectively, vs. 78.0 percent for those students who lived elsewhere)” (American Society of Engineering Education, 2010, p.21).

  • Higher Scores

    “[Living Learning] participants do report higher scores than traditional residence hall students in a variety of key environmental measures, including positive interactions with peers and faculty, use of residence hall resources, perceptions of an academically and socially supportive residence hall climate, and positive peer diversity interactions” (National Study of Living-Learning programs, 2007,   p.VI-1).

  • Satisfaction

    “Studies show students are more likely to accomplish difficult tasks when engaged with individuals facing similar challenges”  (Roberts & Styron, Students Satisfaction and Persistence, Research in Higher Education Journal)