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A Student Success Program for Engineering Undergraduate Students to Improve Retention and Graduation

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

NSF Grantees: S-STEM 1

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Heather Shipley University of Texas at San Antonio

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Dr. Heather J. Shipley is currently the Senior Vice Provost of Academic Affairs and Dean of the University College and Burzik Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She holds a BS degree in Chemistry from Baylor University, Waco, Texas and a MS and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from Rice University, Houston, Texas. Dr. Shipley’s research interests and expertise are in water chemistry, water treatment, and environmental nanotechnology. Her research group focuses on interdisciplinary topics such as innovative water treatment processes including the use of novel technologies such as nanotechnology, low impact development and water quality monitoring, and physiochemical interactions of contaminants to the built environment. Research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, US Dept. of Agriculture, US Bureau of Reclamation, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and others. Dr. Shipley is passionate about engineering education and mentoring unrepresented groups in engineering. She is involved in and a member of several professional organizations such as the American Chemical Society (ACS), Association of Environmental Engineering & Science Professors (AEESP), American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE). Dr. Shipley has also received several prestigious teaching and research awards for instance the University of Texas Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award, UTSA’s Faculty Service to Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry Award and is a part of the UTSA’s Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars.

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Krystel K. Castillo-Villar University of Texas at San Antonio

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Krystel Castillo-Villar received her Ph.D. from Texas Tech University and her Sc.D. from Monterey Tech (ITESM). She is currently the GreenStar Endowed Associate Professor in Energy in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute at The University of Texas at San Antonio. Her research expertise is in: (1) mathematical programming and optimization techniques for analyzing large-scale, complex systems under uncertainty, and (2) big data analytics for manufacturing processes. She is member of INFORMS, IISE and ASEE.

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Timothy Yuen The University of Texas at San Antonio

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Timothy T. Yuen is an Associate Professor and Assistant Chair in the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching with a joint appointment in the Department of Computer Science and a courtesy appointment in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Texas at San Antonio. His research investigates how learning technologies and transformative practices can improve learning, engage students, and broaden participation in computer science and engineering.

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Our University is a minority serving institution and considered a low-income serving institution. Therefore, many of our College of Engineering (COE) students have to work off-campus to meet financial needs and have limited opportunities to participate in on-campus activities focusing on their major. An interdisciplinary faculty team from mechanical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, biomedical engineering and chemical engineering, and electrical and computer engineering created a Scholarship Program for Undergraduate Retention and Success (SPURS) in Spring 2016.

The proposed program consists of an integrated approach to increase the number and graduation rate of undergraduate students who enroll in the College of Engineering. As financial constraints are a major disincentive for students to enroll and persist, this project combines scholarships with other forms of academic and professional support to ensure students are retained and complete a B.S. Engineering degree. The program is specifically designed to develop outstanding graduates through training in required workshops in critical thinking, communication, professional development and research in addition to providing students with optional opportunities in research, internships or K-12 STEM outreach programs. On average, each scholarship is $8,000 a year and covers about 90% of the yearly tuition cost. This paper discusses the mentoring provided, the workshop series developed, student performance, lessons learned and insights gained, which it is transferable to other universities. Since the SPURS program started there have been 34 fellows with a new cohort starting Fall 2019. The number of female and minority students in the program was higher (38% women and 74% minorities) than the target goals which was 33% for female students.

Shipley, H., & Castillo-Villar, K. K., & Yuen, T. (2020, June), A Student Success Program for Engineering Undergraduate Students to Improve Retention and Graduation Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34057

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