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Approaches in Addressing Access and Success among Female Engineering Students at the 2-year College Level

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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

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 7

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Cynthia Lester Georgia State University

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Dr. Cynthia Lester is the Associate Dean of the Clarkston Campus and the Division of Math, Computer Science & Engineering (MCSE) at Georgia State University, Perimeter College where she is also an Associate Professor of Computer Science. In her capacity as the Associate Dean of MCSE, Dr. Lester provides college-wide leadership to the division which includes approximately 100 faculty and staff and 2200 pathway students across five campuses throughout the Atlanta-metropolitan area and online. As the Associate Dean of the Clarkston Campus, Dr. Lester provides leadership and oversight for one of the most culturally diverse campuses in the University System of Georgia enrolling over 4500 students each semester from more than 140 countries. During her tenure at Perimeter College, Dr. Lester has had the opportunity to provide more than $3.5 million dollars of support to the College’s faculty, students, and K-12 partnerships with a mission to expand the STEM pipeline by improving student success in STEM fields and by increasing the number of students prepared for and enrolled in STEM degree programs. Dr. Lester is an International Academy, Research, and Industry Association Fellow and has been a White House invitee discussing STEM Inclusion. Dr. Lester holds professional memberships in the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).

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Sahithya Reddivari Georgia State University

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Sahithya Reddivari is an Assistant Professor of Engineering at Georgia State University. She teaches freshman and sophomore engineering courses including, Introduction to Engineering, Engineering Design and Graphics (2D and 3D modeling) and Statics. She has developed experiential learning projects for first-year engineering students through the Instructional enhancement grant awarded by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Georgia State University. Sahithya enjoys engaging with students outside of the classroom and has been instrumental in the startup and running of the STEM Lab (Makerspace) for students. Further, she also founded the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) student organization at Georgia State University.
Sahithya received her Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Michigan in 2016. While at UM, she developed and taught fluid mechanics lab (CEE 325) for three semesters. She also developed a leadership camp for female engineering students from the University of Liberia and the University of Michigan in collaboration with the Society of Women Engineers. Sahithya has received multiple awards for her excellence in teaching and her distinguished leadership from the University of Michigan in 2016.

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Forough Ansari Georgia State University

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Professor Forough Ansari is an Instructor of Computer Science at Georgia State University, Perimeter College. Professor Ansari teaches a variety of courses in the computer science pathway with a specific focus on object-oriented design and development. Since joining the Perimeter College faculty in 2018, Professor Ansari has participated in NSF-funded research entitled, POGIL, an evidence-based instructional approach in which student teams work on activities that are specifically designed to guide them to construct understanding of key concepts, and also to develop skills in teamwork, communication, critical thinking, and problem solving. Professor Ansari is also the founder and faculty advisor for the Women in Technology (WIT) club. Prior to joining the Perimeter College faculty, Professor Ansari was an Instructor at Gwinnett Technology College. Professor Ansari received her M.S. degree in Computer and Information Technology from Purdue University. Her research area is mainly on the controllability of the complex networks, and application of big data and cloud computing.

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In 2016 Georgia State University, a large public urban research university in the southeast U.S., consolidated with Georgia Perimeter College, the state’s largest two-year access institution, creating Georgia’s largest university serving over 58,000 students across six campuses located the Atlanta-metro area. The “new” Georgia State University is among the most diverse in the nation, and annually graduates more African American students than any other higher education institution. The university is comprised of eleven colleges, inclusive of Perimeter College which is now a college within the larger university, and awards associate’s degrees. It is within Perimeter College that students can take the first two years of engineering coursework that can either lead to an A.S. degree or be used for transfer to a four-year engineering degree program. On average there are approximately 900 students enrolled in the engineering pathway, where 28 percent are first-generation, 53 percent are Pell-eligible, and approximately 59 percent are from populations traditionally underrepresented in STEM. While minority engineering student enrollment continues to grow at a steady pace, enrollment among female students has remained flat at 18 percent over the last three years. Consequently, the uniqueness of this work presents ways in which Georgia State University, Perimeter College is working to support its female engineering students. More specifically, the paper presents ways in which the college is proactively working to address issues of access and success through three strategic approaches: 1) the formation of new female-led student clubs aimed at encouraging a growth mindset in engineering; 2) the creation of academic-based collaborative learning spaces which support synergistic activities between faculty and students; and, 3) student engagement in the form of wraparound services based in co-curricular programming. It is through these efforts that the authors hope to further the discourse among engineering educators on how to improve access and the success of female engineering students especially within the first two years of the college experience.

Lester, C., & Reddivari, S., & Ansari, F. (2020, June), Approaches in Addressing Access and Success among Female Engineering Students at the 2-year College Level Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34160

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