Asee peer logo

Enhancing Undergraduate Research Infrastructure

Download Paper |


2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Building Diversity in Engineering Graduate Programs

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.576.1 - 14.576.15



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Ali Ansari Virginia State University


Jahangir Ansari Virginia State University

visit author page

Associate Professor of Manufacturing Engineering

visit author page


Krishan Agrawal Virginia State University

visit author page

Professor of Mathematics

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

Enhancing Undergraduate Research Infrastructure

Abstract Virginia State University has conducted a formal undergraduate research mentoring program (URMP) for the STEM areas. This program is supported by a grant from NSF under the HBCU UP program. The goal of the URMP is to enhance the undergraduate research infrastructure at Virginia State University. The program set measurable objectives for the first two years. In addition, the URMP set twelve tasks that were expected to be pursued by research mentors as well as the students under this program. A total of 11 faculty members and 51 students participated in the URMP program during the first year. This is 73% of the target level that is set for two years for faculty participation. This also exceeded the target level for student participation. This article deals with the experience of developing policies, procedures, and instruments for recruitment of faculty and students, establishment of measurable objectives and expectations, assessment, evaluation, and improvement of mentoring program. The article also presents the outcomes of the program and the lesson that was learned during the first year.

Introduction In 2006, Virginia State University (VSU), America's first fully state supported four-year institution of higher education learning for African Americans and one of the seventeen 1890 Land-Grant Institutions, was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation under the HBCU UP program to increase the numbers of STEM graduates from an average of 70 to over 105 per year within five years. This project is a comprehensive four-phase STEM program that includes (1) an Undergraduate Bridge (UGB), (2) Course Structure Reform activities (CSR), (3) Student and Faculty Enrichment (SFE) components and (4) a Graduate School Bridge (GSB). Phase one is designed to attract, prepare and give STEM interested high school students an opportunity to explore, learn and experience several STEM disciplines. Phase two is aimed at improving students’ skills and retention in STEM areas through course and curriculum enhancement, new and advance teaching technology especially for the gatekeeper courses. Phase three provides students and faculty opportunities to enhance their knowledge and research skills through specially designed learning activities. Phase four ensures smooth transition of STEM undergraduates into highly competitive graduate school programs. The project's management plan is lead by the faculty members from Engineering and Mathematics Departments.

The project designed activities based on the following strategies: (1) encouraging professional development in the technology context, and (2) promoting interdisciplinary scientific research. Pre-college and undergraduate student participation in the sciences, particularly in research, is a major challenge that is addressed by this project. Diversity of scientific disciplines is encouraged under this project. Some of the most challenging and exciting research topics today are found at the intersections of disciplines and sub-disciplines. This grant established partnerships with STEM academic departments, industries, and other projects and provided opportunities for students to engage in interdisciplinary scientific research projects within the broader domains of the arts and sciences areas at our institution.

Needs Assessment The NSF and the National Science and Technology Council Committee of Science, report that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are vital to the continuing health and prosperity of the United States. Almost every job imaginable will require some knowledge of these fields. To meet the demands of an increasingly technological society requires the full participation and maximum development of all human resources, particularly women, minorities and persons with disabilities—groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields.

Ansari, A., & Ansari, J., & Agrawal, K. (2009, June), Enhancing Undergraduate Research Infrastructure Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4824

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