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Creating Institutional Bridges to Engineering for Underserved Populations: Examining Associate-to-Bachelor Engineering Programs

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Lola Brown City College of the City University of New York

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Lola Brown is a scientist, educator, and entrepreneur. She is an expert in the academic success of students in math and science, from kindergarten to post graduate, with a specialization in equipping PhD students with the tools to successfully complete their doctoral studies and obtain gainful employment in their area of interest.

Dr. Brown is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering and the Assistant Dean of Academic Initiatives at The Grove School of Engineering at The City College of New York (CCNY). One of her major projects was the development and roll out of City College’s master’s program in translational medicine. In addition to her leadership role at CCNY, Dr. Brown has found time to reach out to the non-technical communities and share her passion for science and engineering education. She had an academic enrichment business for middle and high school students specializing in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and was a teacher at the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. She has provided research mentorship and training to scores of undergraduate and graduate students throughout her career.

Lola obtained her bachelor of science from Brown University in biology where she conducted research studying tissue engineered heart valves. She took her master of science from the joint department of biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University studying the stroke pathology in children with sickle cell anemia. She went on to complete her PhD in biochemistry as a NSF Graduate Research Fellow solving the structure of proteins involved in HIV. Immediately following the completion of her PhD, Dr. Brown began postdoctoral research in biomedical engineering at Yale University.

Her highly interdisciplinary training and skill set, which combines biomedical engineering, structural biology, and molecular biology, which makes her well suited to analyze projects from multiple perspectives. Lola has a deep commitment to teaching and mentoring and was awarded the 2009 "30 Under 30" Award for her science outreach efforts. Lola is committed to contributing to STEM education in a manner that values high achievement and meaningful community impact.

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Ardie D. Walser City College of the City University of New York

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Dr. Ardie D. Walser is the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for Graduate and Undergraduate Studies at the Grove School of Engineering and Professor of Electrical Engineering at the City College and Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His current research interest is in the study of nonlinear enhancement of polymers embedded with nano-materials such as quantum dots and carbon nano-tubes. He has given numerous technical lectures and seminars at professional meetings and universities and has published a number of journal and conference papers in the areas of nonlinear effects in polymers, solids and semiconductors. Dr. Walser has served as the divisional chair of the Minorities in Engineering Division (MIND) of the American Association of Engineering Education (ASEE) from 2000 to 2006. He is the recipient of many awards for teaching, including the Faculty of The Year award from the engineering honor society Eta Kappa Knu and the faculty award of the National Society of Black Engineers.

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Rawlins Beharry City College of the City University of New York

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A major challenge in K-16 education is a prevalence of students who desire to pursue an undergraduate engineering degree, but are unprepared for the rigors of a post- secondary engineering curriculum. Many challenges with the high school-to-college transition in engineering are due to a lack of rigorous mathematical and technical education at the secondary level. This issue is particularly significant in secondary schools that serve traditionally underrepresented and underserved populations. One solution is for students to obtain an associate of science (AS) degree in an engineering related discipline from a community college (CC), and to then transition to an undergraduate institution for a bachelor of engineering (BE) degree. This approach allows students to fill in any academic gaps in learning during their secondary education, confirm their interest in engineering, while maintaining any requisite work or family obligations. Although this can be a successful model to an engineering bachelor degree, a lack of communication and coordination between the community college and senior college can result in classes not being transferred, missed registration periods, and semester gaps which can result in a lack of retention. To address these issues and create a straight forward pathway from AS to BE, between 2003-2009, our institution developed four AS/BE dual degree programs with each of two local CC, both of which serve large populations of underserved and underrepresented minorities. In the AS/BE program, the student spends two years at the community college, and upon receiving an AS degree, enters our engineering program as a 3rd year student. Students in our AS/BE programs benefit in a myriad ways including: 1) advanced level status as bachelor candidates (3rd year undergraduate) once receiving AS degree; 2) CC classes readily transfer to senior college through articulation agreement between the two schools; 3) lower CC tuition for two years before entering the more costly senior college; 4) individualized academic support services from their CC, and 5) more flexible times for course offerings during their first two years at CC so work or family obligations can be managed. In 2010, we examined the establishment and development of these programs, performed an initial assessment of student progress (persistence and student GPA), and provided best practices.

The current study revisits the progress of these programs, 13 years after the creation of the first AS/BE program, to perform a longitudinal study to investigate the degree of academic success in the program. Factors such as graduation rate, time to BE completion, point of entry GPA, and final GPA will be examined. Best practices as well as continued challenges will be presented. Finally, we investigate how changes in the technological, financial, and socio-economic/socio-political landscape over the past several years has impacted these programs and will offer revised best practices and recommendations on expanding AS/BE programs.

Brown, L., & Walser, A. D., & Beharry, R. (2017, June), Creating Institutional Bridges to Engineering for Underserved Populations: Examining Associate-to-Bachelor Engineering Programs Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28084

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: © 2017 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