St. Louis, Missouri
June 18, 2000
June 18, 2000
June 21, 2000
5.49.1 - 5.49.16
A PRECOLLEGE ENGINEERING AND SCIENCE SUMMER PROGRAM
Edward S. Pierson, Nancy L. Johnson Purdue University Calumet
The Calumet region (East Chicago, Gary, Hammond, and neighboring parts of Northwest Indiana and Illinois) has a very large minority student population with a low rate of enrollment in post-secondary education. The objective of this program, started in 1991, is to demonstrate to these students that there are excellent job opportunities in engineering and science where graduates can earn a good living while doing work they enjoy with interesting people. The focus is on a five-week summer program for students entering grades 8 or 9, with follow-up activities for two succeeding summers (funds permitting). The key feature is the structure, which ties science, math, and applications together; thus topics are chosen so that the participants see the importance of math as a basic tool, and its application to engineering and science. The mornings are primarily lecture/discussion/demonstration; the afternoons are hands on sessions (laboratory and computer) or industrial tours. This is an enrichment program, not a remedial program.
The program was started because, in spite of large number of minority and economically disadvantaged students in the communities surrounding Purdue Calumet, very few minorities were enrolled as engineering students at Purdue Calumet.
The statistical profile of East Chicago, Gary, and Hammond, Table 1, provides an excellent view of the problems. The college attendance rates are below the Indiana average, which is itself low. In every category the target communities score poorly -- look at percentages with bachelors degrees, families below poverty, single parent families, and percent of students eligible for free lunch. Note also the high percentage of minority students. Not shown are such problems as crime and environmental contamination, major issues for these old industrial cities which had major heavy industrial and petroleum firms; these make the communities unpleasant and drive upper-income residents to move elsewhere. Also, these firms are now ailing and reducing employment, have been taken over or merged, or are even out of business.
Considerable data is available on scholastic performance. SAT test scores are consistently lower than the Indiana average, which is itself low compared to national averages (see Table 1). Of particular significance is the percent of students scoring above the minimum math and English standards, and that is less than half the state average. Note also the low adult educational levels, indicating a lack of role models for the students. Finally, the graduation rates (see Table 2) are poor; Hammond and East Chicago are among the bottom ten in Indiana.
Johnson, N. L., & Pierson, E. S. (2000, June), A Precollege Engineering And Science Summer Program Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. https://peer.asee.org/8635
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