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Board 142: Recruitment, Mentoring, and Retention through the Aerospace and Industrial Engineering (ASPIRE) Scholarship Program

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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


Lesley Strawderman Mississippi State University

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Lesley Strawderman received her Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from Pennsylvania State University in 2005. She has also received a M.S.I.E. from Pennsylvania State University and a B.S.I.E. from Kansas State University. She joined the Industrial and Systems Engineering faculty at Mississippi State University in August 2006, where she currently serves as Associate Professor and Undergraduate Coordinator. Dr. Strawderman’s research interests center around human factors and ergonomics. She is registered Professional Engineer (PE) in Mississippi and an active member of IIE, HFES, and ASEE.

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Rani W. Sullivan Mississippi State University

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Dr. Rani Warsi Sullivan is an Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Mississippi State University. Dr. Sullivan has teaching and research interests in the area of solid mechanics, aircraft materials and structures, and engineering education. Current research includes fiber optic strain sensing for development of an in-flight structural health monitoring system, characterization of the time-dependent deformation of polymer nanocomposites, and strength and vibration testing of full scale composite air vehicles.

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Mahnas Jean Mohammadi-Aragh Mississippi State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Jean Mohammadi-Aragh is an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Mississippi State University. Dr. Mohammadi-Aragh investigates the formation of engineers during their undergraduate degree program, and the use of computing to measure and support that formation. She earned her Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech. In 2013, Dr. Mohammadi-Aragh was honored as a promising new engineering education researcher when she was selected as an ASEE Educational Research and Methods Division Apprentice Faculty.

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With support from the NSF S-STEM program, the Aerospace and Industrial Engineering (ASPIRE) program provides scholarships to academically talented, full-time aerospace and industrial engineering students with demonstrated financial need, and enhances the educational experience of ASPIRE students through mentoring and networking events. The objectives of the ASPIRE program are to 1) prepare students for the workforce, 2) provide educational opportunities while reducing the need for external employment, 3) increase student retention in engineering, 4) increase students’ engineering self-efficacy, 5) increase recruitment of aerospace and industrial engineering students, and 6) encourage students to pursue advanced degrees.

The ASPIRE program strengthens and supports students through a program of mentoring, networking, and academic design. The primary features of the program include continuous mentoring of all ASPIRE fellows (by peers, faculty, and industry representatives), four face-to-face interactions per semester, and enrollment in common courses. Face-to-face interactions have included informational seminars such as “Resume Dos and Don’ts” and “Study Skills: Why Cramming Doesn’t Work” as well as breakfasts with industry guests and plant tours.

A total of 36 undergraduate ASPIRE Fellows will have been directly supported over the five year duration of the project. Eligible applicants are evaluated based on financial need, academic talent, and interest in the field. ASPIRE Fellows receive a $2,500 per semester award for up to eight semesters. The Fellows’ progress is monitored from both an academic stand point (i.e., GPA) and a personal development standpoint (i.e., relationship with mentors). The ASPIRE program success is determined by retention and graduation rates, combined with surveys that collect information about ASPIRE students’ external employment and perceptions of the program.

This paper presents details of the ASPIRE program including descriptions of the recruitment and selection process, mentoring program, networking events, and academic design programs. Additionally, the design of the assessment and evaluation plan and data from the 2016-2017 cohort will be reported.

Strawderman, L., & Sullivan, R. W., & Mohammadi-Aragh, M. J. (2018, June), Board 142: Recruitment, Mentoring, and Retention through the Aerospace and Industrial Engineering (ASPIRE) Scholarship Program Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29943

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2018 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015