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Board 135: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Support Undergraduate Students and Improve Retention and Success

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Heather Shipley University of Texas, San Antonio

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Heather J. Shipley is the Burzik Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Interim Vice Provost and Dean of University College at the University of Texas, San Antonio. She holds a B.S. degree in Chemistry from Baylor University, Waco, Texas, and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from Rice University, Houston, Texas. Dr. Shipley’s research interests and expertise are in water chemistry, water treatment, and environmental nanotechnology. Her research group focuses on interdisciplinary topics such as innovative water treatment processes including the use of novel technologies such as nanotechnology, low impact development and water quality monitoring, and physiochemical interactions of contaminants to the built environment. Research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, US Dept. of Agriculture, US Bureau of Reclamation, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and others. Dr. Shipley is passionate about engineering education and mentoring unrepresented groups in engineering. She is involved in and a member of several professional organizations such as the American Chemical Society (ACS), Association of Environmental Engineering & Science Professors (AEESP), American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE). Dr. Shipley has also received several prestigious teaching and research awards for instance the University of Texas Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award, UTSA’s Faculty Service to Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry Award and is a part of the UTSA’s Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars.

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Rena Bizios University of Texas, San Antonio


Krystel Castillo University of Texas, San Antonio

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Krystel Castillo-Villar received her Ph.D. from Texas Tech University and her Sc.D. from Monterey Tech (ITESM). She is currently the GreenStar Endowed Associate Professor in Energy in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute at The University of Texas at San Antonio. Her research expertise is in: (1) mathematical programming and optimization techniques for analyzing large-scale, complex systems under uncertainty, and (2) big data analytics for manufacturing processes. She is member of INFORMS, IISE and ASEE.

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Our University has seen rapid growth in the last 10 years; however, student income levels have not improved, and our university is considered a low-income serving institution. Therefore, many of our College of Engineering (COE) students have to work extra hours off-campus to meet financial needs and have limited opportunities to participate in on-campus activities focusing on their major. To address the problem, an interdisciplinary faculty team was created from mechanical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, biomedical engineering, and electrical and computer engineering created a Scholarship Program for Undergraduate Retention and Success (SPURS).

The SPURS program, established Spring 2016, consists of an integrated approach to increase the number and graduation rate of undergraduate students who enroll in the College of Engineering. As financial constraints are a major disincentive for students to enroll and persist in higher education, this project combines scholarships with other forms of academic and professional support to ensure student persistence and completion of a B.S. Engineering degree. Providing resources and educational opportunities for undergraduate engineering students will help them attain their Bachelor of Science degrees in Engineering in a timely manner and encourage students to pursue graduate degrees in sciences and engineering along with increasing and diversifying the technical workforce in our region. The overall objective of the program is being accomplished by creating an Undergraduate Engineering Scholarship Program; creating a workshop series on Critical Thinking, Professional Development, and Research; and providing students with optional opportunities in research, internships, or K-12 STEM outreach programs. This paper discusses the mentoring provided, the workshop series developed, student performance, lessons learned and insights gained, which is transferable to other universities.

Shipley, H., & Bizios, R., & Castillo, K. (2018, June), Board 135: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Support Undergraduate Students and Improve Retention and Success Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29929

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