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Encouraging Students With Physical Disabilities To Study Science, Mathematics, Engineering And Technology: Program Access

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.418.1 - 6.418.6



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Paper Authors

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John Olson

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Georgia Ehlers

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David Lovelock

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Ali Mehrabian

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

The Minorities in Engineering Division (MIND)- Division 70

Encourage Students with Physical Disabilities to Study Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology: Program ACCESS

Ali Mehrabian, Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, The University of Arizona John T. Olson, IBM Georgia Ehlers, Graduate College, The University of Arizona David Lovelock, Department of Mathematics, The University of Arizona

I. Introduction

Students with physical disabilities are underrepresented in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (SMET). According to the National Science Foundation (Reference 1), “a higher percentage of students with disabilities than of those without disabilities drop out of high school. Among students who were eighth graders in 1988, 10 percent of those with disabilities and 6 percent of those without disabilities had dropped out of school by 1994. Students with disabilities were less likely than those without to have received a high school diploma by 1994. Dropout and graduation rates vary by type of disability, with those with visual, hearing, or speech impairments least likely to have dropped out. Those with orthopedic impairments, learning disabilities, or "other" disabilities (including health problems, emotional problems, mental retardation, or other physical disabilities) were most likely to have dropped out”.

National Education Longitudinal Study indicates that students with disabilities may be less academically prepared for college than those without disabilities: they were more likely to have taken remedial courses, less likely to have taken advanced placement courses, and had lower grade point averages and lower SAT scores (NCES 1999d). Among 1998 college freshmen, students with disabilities were more likely than those without to have earned Cs and Ds in high school. They were less likely to have met the recommended years of high school study in mathematics, biological sciences, and physical sciences; and to have spent more time between high school graduation and entry into college (Henderson 1999).

The opportunity to study, conduct research, and establish a career in these fields is a reachable goal for students regardless of physical ability.

In the Spring of 1998, a group consisting of students with physical disabilities, faculty from SMET disciplines, and staff at the University of Arizona (UA) proposed a program to the

“Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education”

Olson, J., & Ehlers, G., & Lovelock, D., & Mehrabian, A. (2001, June), Encouraging Students With Physical Disabilities To Study Science, Mathematics, Engineering And Technology: Program Access Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9179

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