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Emerging Impact on Graduation Rates/Times from a Summer Engineering Enrichment Program

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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

24.475.1 - 24.475.11

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Paper Authors


Robert W. Whalin Jackson State University

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Dr. Robert W. Whalin, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Director, Coastal Hazards Center, Jackson State University. He is Director Emeritus of the Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS. He received his PhD in Oceanography from Texas A&M University in 1971 and is a Registered Professional Engineer. Dr. Whalin was Director of Army Research Laboratory (1998-2003; Adelphi, MD), and Technical Director /Director of Waterways Experiment Station (1985-1998; Vicksburg, MS). He has authored/co-authored over a hundred technical papers and reports during his career in private industry, government and academia. His current research interests are nearshore wave transformations, coastal structures, tsunami inundation, hurricane surges, high performance computing, and engineering education.

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Qing Pang Jackson State University

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Qing Pang, Instructor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Science, Engineering and Technology, Jackson State University.

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Emerging Impact on Graduation Rates/Times From A Summer Engineering Enrichment ProgramA sustained summer engineering enrichment program was initiated in 2009 with the objective ofincreasing graduation rates and decreasing time to graduate for first time freshman with MathACT scores from 17-25 which comprises the preponderance of our freshman engineering class.The ten week summer program included College Algebra the first summer term, Trigonometryplus an informal non-credit introduction to engineering the second summer term, periodic trips toengineering employers, supervised daily study sessions and dormitory accommodationsfacilitating formation of a community of engineering learners. 159 engineering majors attendedthe first five summer cohorts and 129 or 81.1% continued in an engineering major in the fallfollowing the summer program. Of the remaining 30, 8 transferred to another STEM major, 16transferred to a non-STEM major and 6 did not enroll in the fall (most transferred to aCommunity College). Fifteen of the 129 (who remained as engineering majors in the fall) werein the first summer cohort (2009). Three or 20% of the 15 in the 2009 cohort graduated asengineers in May 2013 (4 years). This compares with a four year graduation rate of less than 5%at our university since the first engineer graduated in May, 2005 (over 300 graduates). Ananalysis of the 12 other 2009 cohort members revealed that 4 more are enrolled in Senior DesignII and will graduate in December 2013. Consequently, 7/15 or 46.7% of the Fall 2009engineering cohort are projected to graduate in an average of 4.3 years. Six other students in the2009 cohort remain enrolled at the university, two in an engineering major, two in anotherSTEM major (Biology, Earth System Sciences) and two in non-STEM majors (Criminal Justice,Marketing). The remaining two members of the 2009 cohort left the university withoutgraduating. An analysis of the 2010 summer cohort reveals that seven are enrolled in SeniorDesign I in Fall 2013 and are projected to graduate in four years (7/33 or 21.2%) in May 2014.We believe these emerging graduation data imply that first time freshman engineering majorswith math ACT scores from 17-25 can achieve graduation rates nearly comparable to those withhigher scores with the benefit of a summer bridge program focusing on enhancing mathematicsreadiness. A discussion of graduation data for the subgroups (17-19 and 20-25) is included inthe paper. In summary, evidence is emerging (after 5 summer cohorts) that, for first timefreshman students in the ACT Math score range from 17-25, we can increase the 4 yeargraduation rate fourfold from 5% to 20% and increase the overall engineering graduation rate toabout 50% from nominally 25-30%. Simultaneously, the average time to graduate is reduced bya year to less than 4 ½ years (from about 5.2 years).

Whalin, R. W., & Pang, Q. (2014, June), Emerging Impact on Graduation Rates/Times from a Summer Engineering Enrichment Program Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana.

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