New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Minorities in Engineering
BEST PRACTICES FOR UNDERREPRESENTED MINORITY STUDENTS IN AN ENGINEERING SUMMER BRIDGE PROGRAM
ABSTRACT The Summer Bridge Program is committed to creating an educational environment of inclusiveness and high academic excellence. This environment is fostered to enable students to persist in the engineering curriculum, graduate with an engineering degree, and allow for exposure to research and graduate school opportunities. By providing a culturally diverse environment, the College of Engineering seeks to increase the participation of minorities and women in the field of engineering. In 2010 the Summer Bridge Program received corporate sponsorship to assist in efforts to increase the recruitment, retention, and graduation rate of underrepresented minority (URM) students in engineering. In order to meet these objectives, the College of Engineering facilitates student programming to address common causes for difficulty in URM student success in engineering. Among some of the most prevalent hindrances are the lack of early K-12 exposure to STEM education, academic preparedness, institutional cultural acclimation, and financial difficulties. To address these issues the Office of Diversity Programs and Student Development in the College of Engineering has established initiatives to support URMs in engineering including (1) K-12 outreach program for middle school girls; (2) first and second year retention programs; (3) scholarship and stipend awards; (4) a five-week Summer Bridge Program. This paper focuses on the Summer Bridge Program initiative.
Designed to address the needs of academic preparedness and institutional cultural acclimation, the Summer Bridge Program at a predominately white institution in the southeastern portion of the country, has been in existence over twenty years. Despite the program’s longevity and anecdotal observations, quantifiable findings to support the program’s effectiveness has yet to be determined. With support from the Dow Corporation, the programs’ corporate sponsor, the Summer Bridge Program is centered on seven strategic goals to impact URM student outcomes in the College of Engineering with an aim to: 1. Increase the recruitment, retention, and graduation rate of minority students in Engineering. 2. Develop a greater sense of community among all URM participants. 3. Establish strong academic performance in foundation courses (math, chemistry, etc.). 4. Interact with Dow Mentors (speakers, presenters, etc.), engineering department heads, faculty, university human resources, alumni, and engineering professionals. 5. Cultivate professional and personal skills needed in the engineering curriculum and profession. 6. Recognize and reward successful program participation through stipends and Dow Academic Distinction Scholarship awards. 7. Provide overall effective programming.
This study will quantitatively exam the best practices for a Summer Bridge Program to facilitate URM student success in engineering at a predominately white institution (PWI). The analysis will provide insight into first year retention rates and graduation of students in the Summer Bridge 2010-2013 cohorts. The study will compare first year retention rates, and graduation rates of (i) URM Summer Bridge students (ii) College of Engineering URM students who did not participate in the Summer Bridge Program and (iii) the total College of Engineering cohort for 2010-2013. Between the years of 2010-2013 there were a total of 163 Summer Bridge participants. As of Fall 2015 a total of 40.5% of students remain enrolled in engineering.
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