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Broadening Participation Activities at UPRM through the National Science Foundation BRIGE Program

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Mentoring Graduate Students - Diversity and Assessment

Tagged Divisions

Minorities in Engineering and Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.272.1 - 25.272.9

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Paper Authors


Aidsa I. Santiago-Román University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez

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Aidsa I. Santiago-Román is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Science and Materials and the Director of the Strategic Engineering Education Development (SEED) Office at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez (UPRM). Santiago earned a B.A. (1996) and a M.S. (2000) in industrial engineering from UPRM, and a Ph.D. (2009) in engineering education from Purdue University. Her primary research interest is investigating students’ understanding of difficult concepts in engineering science with underrepresented populations. She also teaches introductory engineering courses such as problem solving and computer programming, statics, and mechanics.

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Pedro O. Quintero University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez

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Pedro Quintero earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez and an M.S .from that same institution. After spending nine years in the electronics industry, he joined the University of Maryland, College Park, where he earned a Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering. He joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, in 2008 as an Assistant Professor.

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Guillermo J. Serrano University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez

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Guillermo Serrano received the B.S. degree
in electrical engineering from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, in 2003 and 2007, respectively. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Puerto Rico. His current research interests include data converters, voltage/current references, floating-gate MOS transistors, and micro-energy harvesting circuits systems.

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Broadening Participation Activities at UPRM through the National Science Foundation BRIGE ProgramAbstract The Broadening Participation Research Initiation Grants in Engineering (BRIGE) program atthe National Science Foundation (NSF) is part of the Directorate for Engineering (ENG) andoffers funding opportunity to all beginning engineers with the intent of increasing the diversity ofresearchers in the engineering disciplines. The goal of the program is to increase the number ofproposals from individuals who can serve as role models and mentors for an increasingly diverseengineering student population. BRIGE aims to support innovative research and diversity plansthat contribute to recruiting and retaining a broad representation of engineering researchersespecially those from groups that are underrepresented in the engineering population. TheCollege of Engineering at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus (UPRM) has anenrollment of about 5000 students (approximately 98% are Hispanic), 67% males and 33%females. At UPRM, researchers have an excellent opportunity to impact both Hispanic andwomen, which are traditionally underrepresented populations in engineering. Currently, there are three active research endeavors funded through the BRIGE program atUPRM. The objective of this paper is to disseminate the broadening participation initiatives thathave been designed and implemented at UPRM through these projects. The research objective ofthe first project is to develop a self-programmable circuit infrastructure for analog memories thatwill lay the foundation needed for developing novel high-performance programmable circuitsand systems by taking care of the programming issues involved with floating-gate devices.Broadening participation activities include: sponsoring research efforts of 2 graduate studentsand 5 undergraduate students, outreach activities conducted for high school students, and 7senior students have been indirectly impacted through a special topic course. The overallobjective of the second project is to initiate a research program to broaden participation andincrease opportunities of Hispanic engineering students so that they could become engaged inresearch as independent investigators. With this project, two courses have been developed forundergraduate research that has impacted about 80 students. Four of these students went to workas mentors to 48 high school girls and boys at a Mechanical Engineering Summer Camp. Duringthe 6-day camp, students were introduced to ME as a career and were also exposed to laboratoryactivities in diverse areas. Finally, the goals of the third project are to develop a Spanish versionof the statics concept inventory (CATS) and to determine if bilingual students exhibit the samemisconceptions as those identified in CATS. This study has broaden the participation ofunderrepresented groups in two ways: 100% of the participants are Hispanic students, somethingthat hasn’t been done previously on a study of this type; and graduate and undergraduate studentsworking on the project are female and Hispanic. In summary, impacts of these activities resulted in an increase and diversification of researchactivities at UPRM that have been beneficial to both undergraduate and graduate students fromdifferent engineering departments at UPRM. Also male and female Hispanic high schoolstudents have been engaged in research activities that will allow them to consider engineering asa career and even more to be interested in engineering research.

Santiago-Román, A. I., & Quintero, P. O., & Serrano, G. J. (2012, June), Broadening Participation Activities at UPRM through the National Science Foundation BRIGE Program Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas.

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