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Board 361: Progress in S-STEM Program Electrical Engineering Scholars at the Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology

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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


Lisa Shatz Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology

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Professor of Electrical Engineering, BFCIT
Professor Emerita of Electrical Engineering, Suffolk University
Interests: Electrical Engineering education, increasing participation of under-represented groups in electrical engineering, numeric and analytic modeling of electromagnetic phenomena.

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Nicole P. Pitterson Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16

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Nicole is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. Prior to joining VT, Dr. Pitterson was a postdoctoral scholar at Oregon State University. She holds a PhD in Engineering Education from Purdue University and oth

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Helen Zhang Boston College

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Helen Zhang is a senior research associate working at the Lynch School of Education, Boston College. Her research interest includes science education, design thinking, learning from failure, and AI education at the K-12 level.

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The goal of the Electrical Engineering (EE) Scholars Path to Boston Power (PtoBP) program is to enable academically qualified students--with financial need--from greater Boston Public Schools, community colleges, and those enrolled in the Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology (BFCIT) two year technology associate degree programs, to complete a BS in electrical engineering (EE) leading to employment or an advanced degree in EE, particularly in Electric Power Engineering. The mission of BFCIT, which is a Minority Serving Institution, is to provide technical education to under-served, economically disadvantaged communities. The community of S-STEM Scholars is supported by: a pre-matriculation overnight stay in Maine to learn about electric energy, sustainability, and Maine's unique ecology; a project-based first-year course about power, energy, sustainability, and robotics; mentoring opportunities with local Boston middle and high school students; study group opportunities, and exposure to IEEE PES Society events and other professional activities, such as seminars and conferences. Our goal was a 90% second-year retention rate, and a 90% five-year graduation rate, with at least 50% of the Scholars going on to intern and work in the electric power industry.

The program started in October, 2021 and seven qualified EE students (Cohort 1) received the award in 2021. An eighth scholar was later added that year. Since these students had already started the fall semester, they did not do the Maine trip or the first-year seminar, but attended study groups (remotely), and mentored high school students at BFCIT’s annual Power Engineering Day. Students attended fewer IEEE meetings than had been intended because of the COVID pandemic. In Fall 2022, an additional eight new students (Cohort 2) received the award at the start of the semester, and three more students were added at the end of the semester. Most students in Cohort 2 had the opportunity to attend the overnight Maine trip, enroll in the first-year project-based course, and participate in the other S-STEM programming.

The retention rate of Cohort 1 Scholars after three semesters as PtoBP Scholars was 8/8 or 100%, i.e., all the Scholars returned in BFCIT in the Fall of 2022, although one switched to a two-year electrical engineering technology major, with the approval of the PI. The retention rate of Cohort 2 after one semester was 6/8 or 75%. Two scholars dropped out of the program during the first semester; one switched schools to major in liberal arts and the other dropped out for unknown reasons.

So far, the overall retention rate is 14/16 or 82%, close to the 90% goal of the program.

Shatz, L., & Pitterson, N. P., & Zhang, H. (2023, June), Board 361: Progress in S-STEM Program Electrical Engineering Scholars at the Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--43011

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