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Cstep: Transferring Computer Science Community College Students To Four Year Universities

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Developing Young MINDS in Engineering: Part I

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.388.1 - 14.388.11



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Paper Authors


Michelle Kobus Hillsborough Community College

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Michelle Kobus is the Lead Graduate Academic Advisor for the College of Nursing at the University of South Florida. She previously was the Personal Transition Services Specialist for CSTEP at Hillsborough Community College. She received her M.Ed degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in College Student Affairs from the University of South Florida and two B.A. degrees in Biology and Psychology from Eckerd College.

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Cesar Guerrero University of South Florida

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Cesar D. Guerrero is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of South Florida. He received his M.S. degree in Computer Science from the Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (Mexico) in 2002 and his M.S. degree in Computer Engineering from University of South Florida in 2007. He is a Fulbright scholar who works with Universidad Autonoma de Bucaramanga (Colombia). His research interest includes Bandwidth Estimation and Network Measurement.

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Miguel Labrador University of South Florida


Rafael Perez University of South Florida

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Rafael A. Perez is Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and Associate Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of South Florida. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, in 1967 and 1973 respectively. Before joining the University of South Florida as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering in 1983, Dr. Perez worked as Project Manager with Westinghouse International Company. His research interests are in artificial intelligence, neural networks and genetic algorithms. Dr. Perez also has served as Coordinator for the IEEE Computer Society Latin America Distinguished Visitor's Program, Program Evaluator for the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET, and Mentor for McNair Scholar's Program for Underrepresented minorities.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

CSTEP: Transferring Computer Science Community College Students to Four-year Universities


Computer Science Transfer Programs (CSTEP) is a series of coordinated programs and activities specifically designed to successfully bridge computer science students from community colleges to four-year universities and beyond. In this paper we describe the program and its main objectives, present some evaluation results, and include the lessons that we learned. We found that the personalized advising service is crucial for the success of the program and identified specific adjustments that community college instructor and students need to make when they come to a four- year university.

1. Introduction

In recent years, alarming national statistics and trends have shown declining graduate and undergraduate enrollment, graduation rates, and participation of minority groups in Science and Engineering (S&E) fields, and in Computer Science in particular. According to NSF’s Science and Engineering indicators 2006, underrepresented minorities did not enroll in or complete college at the same rate as Caucasians. In 2003, the percentage of African-Americans and Hispanics who completed a bachelor’s or higher degree were 18% and 10% respectively, compared with 34% of Caucasians3. In addition, the graduation rate for African-Americans and Hispanics in Engineering has remained at 11% over the last ten years1. Underrepresented minority students are also less likely than other ethnic groups to be enrolled in research institutions and instead, a high percentage of them (47%) enroll in two-year institutions. The intentions of first-year undergraduate students to major in S&E3 are equally alarming. Although 9% of these students planned to major in engineering in 2004, only 2%-5% had plans to major in Computer Science. At the graduate level, enrollment in S&E has declined since 2003 mainly as a consequence of the decline observed in foreign students attending US universities, which declined 12% in Engineering and 23% in Computer Science.

Motivated by these statistics and trends showing a dramatic decrease in undergraduate and graduate enrollment in Computer Science, the University of South Florida (USF) together with Hillsborough Community College (HCC) has implemented a series of coordinated programs designed to broaden the participation of Hispanics as well as other underrepresented minority students in Computer Science. The proposed programs, called CSTEP (Computer Science Transfer Programs), establish an educational pathway and provide the support that students need to make successful transitions at critical points in their educational journey from community college to the baccalaureate level and from the baccalaureate level to the graduate level. As enrollment in computer science decreases and the State University System of Florida puts more demanding admission restrictions on community college students, it is crucial for these transfer students to have programs such as CSTEP to prepare and support them in this transfer process.

Kobus, M., & Guerrero, C., & Labrador, M., & Perez, R. (2009, June), Cstep: Transferring Computer Science Community College Students To Four Year Universities Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5865

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: © 2009 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