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Can an Engineering Summer Bridge Program Effectively Transition Underrepresented Minority Students Leading to Increased Student Success?

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Summer and Cohort Programs for Minorities: Student Success

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.251.1 - 24.251.10



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Paper Authors

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Darryl Dickerson Purdue University


Freddy Solis Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Freddy Solis is a doctoral candidate in the School of Civil Engineering at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. He holds a civil engineering degree from the Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan, Mexico, and M.Sc. in civil engineering and MBA degrees from Purdue University. His research focuses on innovation, design, entrepreneurship, and engineering education.

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Virginia Booth Womack Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16


Tasha Zephirin Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Tasha Zephirin is a Ph.D. student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She is currently a participant in the National Science Foundation sponsored Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training in Magnetic and Nanostructured Materials (IGERT-MNM) program—a collaborative effort between Purdue University, Cornell University and Norfolk State University. Her research interests include the development, evaluation, and assessment of co-curricular and extra-curricular STEM programs to diverse audiences across the education continuum (e.g. community members, K-12 students, undergraduate students, graduate students, and industry professionals) in varying contexts.

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Carol S. Stwalley Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Carol S Stwalley is the Recruitment and Retention Analyst at the Purdue University Minority Engineering Program. She holds a doctorate from the Purdue School of Agricultural and Biological Engineering specializing in aquacultural engineering. She has worked to increase underrepresented populations at Purdue since 2000. She is also the President of Paradocs Enterprises, Inc. which has been involved in developing two waste-to-energy processes.

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Can an engineering summer bridge program demonstrate effectively transition underrepresented minority students leading to increased student success? A pilot studyMany approaches have been utilized to address gaps in retention and graduation rates betweenunderrepresented minority (URMs) students and majority students in engineering programs. The rootcause of such disparities varies between institutions. At selective institutions, all students have alreadymet academic qualifications and have demonstrated strong potential for success. However, while thetransition from high school to college poses risks for all students, research has indicated that URMs whoare otherwise academically prepared are particularly at risk at this leverage point. In 2005, to addresstransition issues for URM in student success, a minority program in a large selective Midwesternuniversity launched a five-week summer bridge program to simulate the rigor of the first semester ofthe freshman engineering curriculum. This transition-focused program was designed to prepareincoming URM freshmen engineering students for the cultural shift from high school to competition at aglobal institution.This study quantitatively and qualitatively examines the effect of this summer bridge program on theURM transition by examining participants’ confidence about college and sense of belonging ascompared to a control group. In addition, this paper will present an initial analysis of 5 cohorts of URMstudents who participated from 2005 – 2009. This quantitative study will compare the first yearretention rates of these URM students, by cohort, with two groups: (1) URMs that did not participate inthe bridge program and (2) the remainder of the cohort. This work is the first step towards a rigorousanalysis of how socio-academic acclimatization to our University affects success of URMs in engineeringand how these analyses can inform the development of our student programs.

Dickerson, D., & Solis, F., & Womack, V. B., & Zephirin, T., & Stwalley, C. S. (2014, June), Can an Engineering Summer Bridge Program Effectively Transition Underrepresented Minority Students Leading to Increased Student Success? Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20142

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