Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
NSF Grantees Poster Session
The College of Engineering (CoE) at XX University has built a highly successful student mentoring and leadership program over the past ten years initiated with support from the NSF STEM Talent Expansion Program (STEP). The peer mentor program evolved from the STEP 1a grant in response to a need for upper-level students to assist with the freshman bridge camp. Starting the camp with five mentors in 2008, it now engages over 160 in 2017 and encompasses significant leadership training. Peer mentors are undergraduates from all majors within the College of Engineering including second semester freshmen through graduating seniors. In 2010, the students at XXU established a new organization, the Society of Peer Mentors (SPM) to formalize their efforts at the university. SPM fosters a hierarchy of upper-level students serving as leaders to mentor new members and to create and deliver programs. Peer Mentor Leaders (PML) facilitate the recruiting, application and interview process for new SPM members; they lead projects and supervise other mentors during the freshman camp, and they often serve as officers and chairs of the student organization.
Mentors participate in at least 12 hours of leadership training each year, which in the past two years has grown to include an off-campus, overnight retreat. At these leadership trainings, they learn about mentoring and leadership principles while bonding through team building activities. A strength of this program is that students quickly put their skills to use through developing and leading a wide variety of activities. Mentors serve as engineering supplemental instructors (initiated with the STEP 1b award), work in K-12 schools as mentors for robotics teams, perform several hours of outreach to K-12 students each semester, and mentor incoming freshmen during the bridge camp and introductory courses. Mentors are also encouraged to pursue their own ideas and passions, and they are given support to plan and carry out novel programs. Mentors have written proposals and been given seed funds for innovative activities such as a the first 24-hour computer hackathon in [state], a weekend bootcamp for sophomores in chemical engineering, and a 3-day robot build, each demonstrating leadership and commitment to the community.
Analyses have shown that mentors are retained and graduate in engineering at a 30-40% higher rate than their CoE peers. Over 80 mentors have graduated since the beginning of this program and are now employed across a spectrum of engineering industries. They continue to serve as important role models for our students, returning to share their stories and experiences starting engineering careers.
Steele, A., & Waggenspack, W. N. (2018, June), Board 140: "STEP-ing" Up: Building a Successful Student Leadership Program Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/29941
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