In an effort to reduce the engineering student withdrawal rate due to mathematics, The University of Alabama developed a unique, informal, interactive, and interdisciplinary five-week summer residence program called the Engineering Math Advancement Program (E-MAP). The program aims to increase retention by preparing students to be successful in calculus and excited about engineering. In addition to a nontraditional math class, the program includes hands-on “Living-Lab” experiences, field trips and a community service project led by professional engineers. The non-math aspects of the program strengthened mathematical skills indirectly through engagement of the students in laboratory and real world engineering problems, in the idea that solving skills are best nurtured through hands-on experiences. E-MAP improved retention of students in STEM fields overall by approximately 12% after three years with 36% increase in retention of students who entered with placement scores within the target math range for the program.