This study focuses on freshman attitudes and beliefs about engineering in a newly introduced engineering curriculum that emphasizes holistic design experiences to portray the discipline of engineering. To precisely measure these constructs, a well documented survey instrument (PFEAS) was employed. The two comparison groups were: the new design-based sequence (DS) and the previous traditional sequence (TS). The study was conducted at a time when both the sequences were available for direct comparison. Data were collected twice (pre- and post-), and changes in groups' attitudes were examined with repeated measures analysis of covariance models. We have found that freshmen join the program with positive perceptions about engineering. Students in the DS group have higher ACT scores, enjoy math and science the most, do not believe engineering to be an exact science, and have stronger parental influence in selecting engineering as a major. We did not observe appreciable group differences in how attitudes changed over time; perhaps one semester of engineering experience was not enough to effect an appreciable change in freshman attitudes. Our study forms the foundation for a longitudinal study to track attitudinal changes for the complete cycle of the design sequence. This formative evaluation will help to further understand and improve the curriculum design efforts.