Asee peer logo

Board 350: NSF S-STEM Academy of Engineering Success: Reflections on a Seven-Year Journey

Download Paper |


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

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Robin A.M. Hensel West Virginia University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Robin A. M. Hensel, Ed.D., is a Teaching Professor in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University and an ASEE Fellow member. Throughout her career, she has supported engineering teams as a mathematician and provided complete life-cycle management of Information Systems as a Computer Systems Analyst for the U.S. Department of Energy; taught mathematics, statistics, computer science, and fundamental engineering courses and served in several administrative roles within higher education; secured over $5.5M funding and support for STEM education research; and led several program development efforts, including: a childcare facility at a federal research laboratory, STEM K-12 teacher training programs, a Molecular Biology/Biotechnology master’s degree program at a small internationally-focused teaching institution, as well as a first-year engineering program and a B.S. Engineering Technology degree program at an R1 research institution. She has been recognized for her teaching, advising, and service, and as an Exemplary Faculty Member for Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

visit author page


David A. Wyrick PE, CPEM West Virginia University

visit author page

Professor specializing in engineering management. Former dean, academic associate dean, department chair, and engineer in energy, manufacturing, and computing industries.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Much has changed in the seven years since 2016 – in society, in education, and in our NSF S-STEM Program. The goal, however, of the West Virginia University (WVU) Academy of Engineering Success (AcES), which received NSF S-STEM funding beginning in 2016, has remained constant: to increase the number of graduating engineers and contribute to the diversification of the engineering workforce [1], [2]. AcES has endeavored to attract, support and retain through graduation talented, but underprepared (non-calculus-ready) first-time, full-time engineering and computing undergraduate students from underrepresented populations by implementing established, research-based student success and retention strategies. During the seven (7) years of NSF funding, this program has served 71 students and supported 28 students with renewable S-STEM scholarships.

Past research used surveys and individual and focus group interviews to measure AcES scholars’ feelings of institutional inclusion, engineering self-efficacy and identity, and assessment of their own development of academic and professional success skills [1], [2]. Results supported the Kruger-Dunning Effect, “a cognitive bias in which unskilled people do not recognize their incompetence in specific areas and often overestimate their abilities” [3], [4], [5]. Specifically, students who did not retain to the second year tended to enter college with unrealistic expectations regarding: (1) the time and effort required to succeed in a challenging major and (2) their ability to succeed with little effort. Students tended to underestimate the challenges and overestimate their ability to meet the challenges. [2], [3], [5].

Instead of focusing on those who left the program, this work focuses on AcES scholars who have completed or nearly completed an engineering or computing degree even through the additional complications and challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. From these successful graduates, we hope to learn what elements of the AcES program were the most impactful and supportive to their journey. The lessons learned are shared to inform other, future engineering education programs.

Hensel, R. A., & Wyrick, D. A. (2023, June), Board 350: NSF S-STEM Academy of Engineering Success: Reflections on a Seven-Year Journey Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--42982

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: © 2023 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