June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Minorities in Engineering
12.119.1 - 12.119.14
A STEP in the Right Direction: Student Transition to Engineering Program
In 1995, Virginia Tech’s Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity (CEED) established and implemented a summer bridge program for pre-enrolled freshman students entering the College of Engineering in the subsequent fall. From 1995 to 2004, the program was targeted to under-represented engineering students under the name ASPIRE (The Academic Summer Program Introducing Resources for Engineers). In 2004, the CEED office received a $2 million dollar STEP (STEM Talent Expansion Program) grant from the National Science Foundation. The goal of the project is to increase the number of students earning degrees in engineering and computer science. One component of the grant activities was the expansion of ASPIRE, marketing it to a larger number of first-year students admitted to the College of Engineering (COE). The expanded bridge program still operates under the auspices of the CEED and has been named STEP Bridge – Student Transition to Engineering Program.
Here, we provide a brief overview/history of ASPIRE and then discuss the transition to, and implementation of the STEP Bridge program. We will compare the logistics of managing both programs, costs, demographics of the populations served, fall semester academic performance of the participants as compared to appropriate non-participating cohorts, and student satisfaction with bridge programs. We will also project the program impact and discuss anticipated growing pains as we continue to expand to our target participation of 100 students. We will present what we have learned from the past two years of implementation, as STEP Bridge moves into its third year.
In 1995 Virginia Tech’s Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity (CEED) first implemented a summer pre-freshman bridge program targeted to under-represented engineering students2. ASPIRE (The Academic Summer Program Introducing Resources for Engineers) was a five-week program that assisted African American and Hispanic students with the academic and social transition between high school and college. Specifically, the program goal was to support diversity within the college by increasing retention of minority students through enhancing first-semester performance.
From 1995-2004 ASPIRE served approximately 300 students. CEED has maintained data on the academic performance of all ASPIRE students with a cohort control group as they progress through Virginia Tech. The data indicates increased academic performance, improved grades in general freshman courses, and higher retention and graduation percentages as compared to control groups2.
At present, only 50% of all students entering an engineering discipline continue through graduation1. Successes of programs such as ASPIRE have fueled an expansion of transition and
Matanin, B., & Waller, T., & Kampe, J., & Brozina, C., & Watford, B. (2007, June), A Step In The Right Direction: Student Transition To Engineering Program Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1895
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