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At a Crossroads: Emerging Hispanic-serving Institutions and ABET Accreditation - An Exploratory Study

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Engineering and Public Policy II

Tagged Division

Engineering and Public Policy

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.236.1 - 25.236.15



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Paper Authors

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Gary Cruz Great Minds in STEM

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At a Crossroads - Emerging Hispanic-Serving Institutions and ABET Accreditation: An Exploratory StudyThe national capacity to innovate requires broader participation of under-representedcommunities, which make up an increasingly large portion of the national population. Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) and Emerging Hispanic-Serving Institutions play a pivotal role in thedevelopment and growth of communities and economies throughout the nation. As eligible TitleV institutions, it is fundamental for HSIs and Emerging HSIs to meet the needs of its diversestudent population. As shifting demographers point to an increasing Hispanic population, it isimperative that these institutions ramp up capabilities to support this growing community.This exploratory study intends to first examine the demographics of HSIs and emerging HSIs inrelevance to ABET engineering accreditation - the recognized accreditation body in the U.S. forapplied science, computing, engineering, and technology. Second, it will explain the embeddedvalue of “Hispanic-Serving” in the context of engineering education. Finally, the study willoutline the broader implications on national policies regarding the role that ABET-accreditedHSIs and ABET-accredited Emerging HSIs play in preparing a technically-talented STEMworkforce.ABET has accredited a total of 386 higher education institutions with engineering accreditation(EAC) according to its website (ABET, Sept 15, 2011). Of these institutions, 380 wereidentified as 4-year public or private, not-for-profit institutions. Using IPEDS data, 19 of theseinstitutions were identified as Hispanic-Serving Institutions (i.e. have a FTE of at least 25percent undergraduate Hispanic enrollment). Another 30 institutions were identified asEmerging Hispanic-Serving Institutions (i.e. have a FTE of 15 – 24 percent undergraduateHispanic enrollment).As a group, the 19 HSIs enroll a Hispanic FTE of 42 percent. In comparison, the thirtyEmerging HSIs collectively enroll an FTE of 18 percent. The 331 institutions, which are notclassified as HSIs or Emerging HSIs, enroll a combined Hispanic FTE of 7 percent. Of the totalHispanic Undergraduate FTE from all 380 institutions, HSIs enroll 13 percent of the FTE, andEmerging HSIs enroll an additional 24 percent of the FTE. Thus, 49 institutions enroll 37percent, over one-third, of the total Hispanic Undergraduate FTE enrolled in 4-year public andprivate, not-for-profit ABET-Engineering accredited institutions.Until recently, there were few studies about HSIs and Hispanic students. The homogeneity ofHSIs has been argued to be an advantage and disadvantage for Latino/a students (Contreras,Malcom, & Bensimon, 2008). Scholars have argued that HSIs have a perception of being moreinclusive and affirming of minority student success (Hurtado, Milem, Clayton-Pederson, &Allen, 1999). According to Solorzano (1995), role model theory suggests that HSIs provide asignificant critical mass of Latino/a faculty and peers present would lead to greater numbers ofLatino/a students aspiring to high-status occupations. However, some scholars indicate that it isnot institutional type so much as the context of social and psychological support created by theinstitution (Pasceralla & Terenzini, 1991). On one hand the critical mass of Latinos/a enablesthem to transition and persist in higher education far greater than their Latino/a peers attendingPWIs (Solorzano, 1995). On the other hand, because HSIs do not represent the complete ethnicdemographics of society, they potentially have the effect of providing an over-shelterededucation. In other words, the education Latinos/as receive in the absence of diversity at an HSI,may make the transition into the dominant white-male STEM workforce may be a culture shock.Expanding the pool of scientists and engineers is a priority for American educators andemployers alike (Bonous-Hammarth, 2000). By 2016, four out of every 10 new jobs will requiresome advanced education or training (Dohm and Shniper 2007). According to data compiled bythe U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2007), Latinos constitute 8.7 percent of the engineeringworkforce, while, at 8.7 percent, remain underrepresented in these fundamental careers relativeto their U.S. population.

Cruz, G. (2012, June), At a Crossroads: Emerging Hispanic-serving Institutions and ABET Accreditation - An Exploratory Study Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20996

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