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Achieving Diversity In Graduate Engineering Education What Are The Major Issues?

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Recruiting and Building Diversity

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.138.1 - 9.138.5



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Paper Authors

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Ronald Kane

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Carla Purdy

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2492

Achieving Diversity in Graduate Engineering Education--What Are the Major Issues? Carla Purdy, Electrical & Computer Engineering & Computer Science, Univ. of Cincinnati (, Ronald Kane, Dean of Graduate Studies, New Jersey Institute of Technology (


What are the benefits of diversity in graduate engineering education? Reasons for increasing diversity among undergraduates also apply at the graduate level--a larger pool of highly trained workers, increased technical expertise among the overall population, the potential for enhanced innovation due to multiple perspectives, and greater economic and professional opportunities for the students involved. Moreover, engineers with graduate training will be at the forefront of leadership and change, in both academia and industry, giving additional impetus to efforts to increase the diversity of this group. However, while the percentages of women and minorities earning engineering graduate degrees are increasing, they still (except for women at the masters' level) lag behind the percentages earning bachelor's degrees. Many initiatives for improving diversity at the undergraduate, K-12, and faculty levels, as well as extensive industry programs, already exist or are being developed. But at the graduate level initiatives are more limited and their success rate has been lower. While some programs for increasing diversity at the undergraduate level can be extended to the graduate level, other factors must also be taken into account. For example, at the undergraduate level only 7.1% of B.S. in engineering degrees awarded in 2002 went to foreign nationals, while at the graduate level the percentages were 42.6% for M.S. degrees and 54.9% for Ph.D. degrees respectively. This greater cultural diversity certainly impacts both understanding and dealing with issues of diversity in graduate engineering education. Here we discuss some of the major issues whose impact on diversity in graduate education needs assessment. These include both issues which are crucial at the undergraduate level, such as workplace, climate, critical mass, and support systems, and also issues specific to the graduate level, such as increased family and financial responsibilities and the structure of graduate degree programs and academic engineering research.

1. Introduction

The need for increasing the representation of women and minorities at all levels of engineering has been well-documented1,2,3,4:

• The overview of the National Science Foundation's 2002 ADVANCE Program for Institutional Transformation states "The pursuit of new scientific and engineering knowledge Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Kane, R., & Purdy, C. (2004, June), Achieving Diversity In Graduate Engineering Education What Are The Major Issues? Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13223

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