San Antonio, Texas
June 10, 2012
June 10, 2012
June 13, 2012
Minorities in Engineering and Graduate Studies
25.19.1 - 25.19.9
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 Students.in 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.
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