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An Exploration into the Impacts of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) on Student Persistence

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Monique S. Ross Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Monique Ross is a doctoral candidate in the Engineering Education department at Purdue University. Her research focuses are race, gender, and identity in the engineering workplace, specifically the experiences of Black women in engineering industry. She also has interest in preparing women and minorities for career advancement through engagement in strategies for navigating the workplace. She has a Bachelors degree in Computer Engineering from Elizabethtown College, a Master’s degree in Computer Science and Software Engineering from Auburn University, eleven years of experience in industry as a software engineer, and three years as a full-time faculty in the department of engineering at a small Midwest engineering university.

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Susan McGrade Indiana Institute of Technology

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Dr. McGrade is a Professor of English at Indiana Institute of Technology, where she teaches a range of classes from First-Year Composition to African American Literature. She often works closely with the College of Engineering, and has developed both an integrated model for English instruction within a Software Engineering program, and a problem-based learning curriculum for a First-Year Engineering Academy. She is also the current NSBE Chapter Advisor.

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Engineering colleges and universities have taken up the call to action to broaden participation in engineering with efforts such as summer bridge programs, minority and women engineering programs, and other initiatives that have proven to increase retention and graduation rates. These are typically universities that have the financial resources to leverage costly interventions. However, many other universities struggle to broaden underrepresented minority (URM) participation, especially in the absence of dedicated financial resources. At one small, Midwestern, private university, the only such intervention is the presence of a NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) chapter; since its inception in the Spring of 2005, the chapter has been supported by a faculty member who acts as an unpaid advisor, and by the students who become active members. In the past five years, this chapter reports an 82% graduation and/or persistence rate. This research study explores the impact of one NSBE chapter on URM persistence and graduation. This mixed-methods approach to understanding the impact of NSBE on the persistence of URM students at a small university with limited resource uses descriptive statistical analysis to understand the numerical implications, while qualitative data in the form of interviews with five NSBE alumni and senior students, provides a rich description of the impact NSBE had on the success of these students. This study describes one university’s attempt to retain and persist its URM STEM students in the absence of financial resources for formal programming and scholarships.

Ross, M. S., & McGrade, S. (2016, June), An Exploration into the Impacts of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) on Student Persistence Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27280

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