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Board 300: Greater Equity, Access, and Readiness for Success in Engineering and Technology (GEARSET) - An Alternate Pathway to Engineering and ET

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2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Lesley M. Berhan The University of Toledo

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Lesley Berhan is currently the Associate Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement for the College of Engineering and an Associate Professor in the department of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering at The University of Toled

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Bryan Thomas Bosch

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Bryan Bosch holds a B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering and a M.A. in Educational Psychology (’14), both from the University of Cincinnati. Along with his current role as the Manager of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement for the Co

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The Greater Equity, Access, and Readiness for Engineering and Technology (GEARSET) Program, an NSF funded S-STEM program was developed GEARSET to address several institutional needs at the university. The original target population for the GEARSET program was identified as a subset of the students who applied to the College of Engineering and do not meet all the admissions requirements and are admitted to an Exploratory Studies major in the university’s University College. Historical data indicates that approximately 170 students per year with a high school GPA of 3.00 or higher are admitted to Exploratory Studies because they do not meet the College of Engineering admissions criteria. Of these, roughly 78 students remain at the University after one year. Of those 78, only about 45 students per year transition to college of Engineering majors by the end of their first year. These numbers do not accurately reflect the ability of these students, but rather are due in part to curricular bottlenecks, lack of institutional support, and lack of significant relevant exposure of students to material meant to engage their engineering future selves. This data motivated the creation of the GEARSET program. Specifically, the program was designed to 1. Increase recruitment, retention, student success, and transfer rates into engineering of students who are not admitted directly to engineering but who are instead admitted to the university’s University College. 2. Increase meaningfulness and engineering relevance of pre-engineering curriculum. 3. Increase diversity within the student population of various engineering departments in the College of Engineering. 4. Remove bottlenecks in curriculum and improve access to engineering and decrease length to degree. A key aspect of the program is a curated curriculum. All students in the GEARSET program are enrolled in multiple courses historically proven to promote better understanding of the key areas of Math, Chemistry and Physics needed to be successful engineers. All students have access to advisors within the COE to help them better understand the programs, curriculum and professional outcomes of each discipline of Engineering. Another key component of the program is that low income students in the GEARSET cohort who successfully transfer to a major within the COE after one year receive scholarship support. Here we describe the Program, the results to date, and the impact of the recent global pandemic and the subsequent transition to test optional admissions criteria on the definition of the GEARSET cohort, program implementation, and student participation.

Berhan, L. M., & Bosch, B. T. (2023, June), Board 300: Greater Equity, Access, and Readiness for Success in Engineering and Technology (GEARSET) - An Alternate Pathway to Engineering and ET Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--42833

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