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An Engineering Summer Bridge Program Utilizing a Safe Space to Increase Math Efficacy

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2021 First-Year Engineering Experience



Publication Date

August 9, 2021

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August 9, 2021

End Date

August 21, 2021

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Charmane Caldwell Florida A&M University - Florida State University

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Dr. Charmane V. Caldwell is the Director of Student Access at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering (COE). As Director, Charmane leads a comprehensive effort to increase the number of underrepresented undergraduate minorities and women in engineering. She has developed and managed several retention programs at the college: Engineering Concepts Institute (ECI) Summer Bridge; Engineering Living Learning Community (LLC), Educating Engineering Students Innovatively (EESI) and Peer-Assisted Study Sessions (PASS). Dr. Caldwell also serves as the activity director for the Title III program Engineering Learning Community. Those collective programs have nearly doubled the first-year retention of underrepresented minorities at the college..

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Roxanne Hughes National High Magnetic Field Laboratory Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Roxanne Hughes is the Director of the Center for Integrating Research and Learning (CIRL) at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (MagLab). She has also directed the MagLab’s Diversity and Inclusion Programs from 2014 to 2019. She brings a breadth of experience in science teaching and informal science education to her position. Her research interests include programs and policies that attempt to increase the number of women and marginalized populations in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields by changing the climate within these fields. In her research, she focuses on STEM identity (one’s belief that they fit the perception of a scientist and can be successful in their chosen field). Her research has been presented at national conferences and in international journals. She has been a part of the panel discussion of the American Association of University Women’s Solving the Equation report (2015) and recently the SciGirls national program’s redesign of their strategies for engaging girls in STEM. In addition to her work at the MagLab she also served on multiple boards and advisory commissions, including: the American Physical Society’s Committee on the Status of Women in Physics, the FSU Diversity and Inclusion Council, the FSU National Coalition Building Institute, and the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change Review panel.

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Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University has hosted a summer bridge program called Engineering Concepts Institute (ECI) on and off since 1987. The purpose of the summer bridge program is to ease the students’ transition from high school to college, while preparing students for the successful completion of an engineering degree. ECI scholars are provided with an upperclassman peer mentor, learning skills and tools necessary to become effective and efficient engineering students. Over the 30 years of the program, there have been different models and coordinators, some years lack of funding has meant the program was not incorporated. In the last six years, there have been two different models. The first model is a six-week summer bridge program, where students start early with engineering fundamentals, first year engineering lab, math and science preparation, engineering design projects, and field trips. The second model is an intensive 5-day summer bridge program, where students come to campus a week early to participate in math preparatory classes, student skill workshops and team building activities. During the math preparatory classes, students are exposed to everyday and engineering examples that make a connection between theory and application to instill a better appreciation for mathematics.

Engineering summer bridge programs have long been adopted to improve the transition and hopefully retention of minority students. Even with proven success, the difficult challenge has always been the high cost of these types of programs and the ability to scale-up to assist more participants. The purpose of this paper is to detail the success of both summer program models and how a less cost-intensive 5-day summer program can be created that provides comparable results to a full six-week summer bridge program.

Caldwell, C., & Hughes, R. (2021, August), An Engineering Summer Bridge Program Utilizing a Safe Space to Increase Math Efficacy Paper presented at 2021 First-Year Engineering Experience, Virtual .

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