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A Bridge to the Doctoral Program Strategy for Increasing Latinos in the Earthquake Engineering Professoriate

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Mentoring Graduate Students - Diversity and Assessment

Tagged Divisions

Minorities in Engineering and Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.19.1 - 25.19.9



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Paper Authors

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Miguel Pando P.E. University of North Carolina, Charlotte

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Luis E. Suarez University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez

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Adrian Rodriguez-Marek Virginia Tech

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Sandra Loree Dika University of North Carolina, Charlotte


Domniki Asimaki Georgia Institute of Technology

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Domniki Asimaki is an Associate Professor at the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at GATech. She has a B.S. in civil engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece, and an M.S. and Ph.D. from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT. Prior to joining the CEE faculty at Georgia Tech in 2005, she worked as a postdoc for the European Research Program SAFERR in Paris, France, and for the Institute for Crustal Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research focuses on the numerical simulation of soil response to seismic loading, soil-structure interaction, and inverse problems in near-surface geophysics, and is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). She is the recipient of the 2008 Bill Schutz Junior Faculty Teaching Award for Excellence from Georgia Tech and the 2009 Arthur Casagrande Professional Development Award from the ASCE Geoinstitute.

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Brady R. Cox University of Arkansas

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Joseph Wartman University of Washington

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Abstract submitted for consideration for the 2012 ASEE - Annual Conference and Exposition to be held in San Antonio, Texas on June 10-13, 2012 Bridge to The Doctoral Program Strategy for Increasing Hispanics in Earthquake Engineering – Experiences and Challenges One of the most significant challenges facing engineering education is the chronic problem ofinclusion and retention of underrepresented minority (URM) groups. This paper describes a proposedbridge to the doctoral program (BDP) strategy geared towards educating a critical mass of HispanicPh.D. graduates in the field of earthquake engineering. Hispanics are among the most underservedpopulations in higher education in the U.S. Despite being the largest minority group in the nation,Hispanics have the lowest rate of graduate school enrollment of any racial or ethnic group. Overall,Hispanics earn just 4% of the doctorates awarded by colleges, and comprise less than 3% of the full timecollege faculty (Huband 20061). To address this inequity, a BDP program was proposed to help increasethe size and diversity of the graduate student population. The BDP program was initially proposed aspart of an NSF research project funded within the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation(NEES) program (Figure 1), but it can be applied as a model for any multi-institutional researchproposal. As shown in Fig. 1, the proposed BDP is Active participationcentered around UPRM, a predominantly of mainland PI’sHispanic institution, and involves connecting UPRM Other universities undergraduatesthe UPRM students with academic MSc @ UPRMinstitutions in mainland USA which can be Other minority Doctorate / MSc @the ones from the research project PIs or students US Institutionsother institutions. It is envisioned that the Other LSAMPbenefits of the proposed BDP will be studentsmultifold. First, it will increase the size anddiversity of the graduate student population Fig. 1: Proposed “Bridge to the Doctorate Program” (BDP) for Hispanic the participating institutions. Second, itwill prepare highly trained minorities to fillthe ranks of the earthquake engineering profession; and third, it will provide a pool of qualifiedapplicants for professorate positions in this field. It has been shown that mentors of a shared ethnicitypositively impact student's academic performance and retention (e.g., Santos and Reigadas 20022);however, it cannot be assumed a person, just by being part of a minority group, is sensitized to thegeneral problems of under-representation and will be an effective advocate for minority education. Theapproach to set up the “Bridge to Doctorate Program” (BDP) will be modeled after the successful NSFprogram Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP). The approach will focus onattracting graduate students from Hispanic groups to doctorate programs in participating Research Iuniversities on the mainland US. With its large Civil Engineering (CE) program (current CE enrollmentis over 1,100 students) UPRM can play a unique role in recruiting Hispanic students. To ensure thatUPRM also plays an active role in research, and to continue strengthening its graduate program, the“bridge” to the doctorate program in the US is via initial graduate studies at the master’s level at UPRM.During their MS studies at UPRM, BDP fellows can exchange experiences with students from theparticipating universities and can have faculty from participating mainland US institutions as membersof their graduate committees. Participating institutions in this proposed BPD may not be limited to theuniversities participating in a particular research project.1 Huband, F.L. (2006). “An International Flavor,” Editorial, PRISM magazine, ASEE, December.2 Santos, S.J. and Reigadas, E. (2002). “Latinos in higher education: An evaluation of a university faculty mentoringprogram,” Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 1, pp. 40-50.

Pando, M., & Suarez, L. E., & Rodriguez-Marek, A., & Dika, S. L., & Asimaki, D., & Cox, B. R., & Wartman, J. (2012, June), A Bridge to the Doctoral Program Strategy for Increasing Latinos in the Earthquake Engineering Professoriate Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20779

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