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Escape To Engineering: A Summer Bridge Program For Women In Engineering

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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

Women in K-12 Engineering

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.583.1 - 14.583.12



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Paper Authors

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Laura Bottomley North Carolina State University

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Katherine Titus-Becker North Carolina State University

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Heather Smolensky-Lewis North Carolina State University

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

ESCape to Engineering: A Summer Bridge Program for Women in Engineering


The ESCape program is designed to support incoming female engineering students as they make the transition from high school to college in a number of ways. Some of the elements that may inhibit the retention of a female engineering student include lack of support from home, feelings of inadequacy with regards to mathematics performance, feelings of isolation, homesickness, and lack of connection within a large university. Incoming first year female engineering students are invited to attend the ESCape camp based on math SAT scores. The desired attendance is approximately fifty students, so students with lower scores are invited to apply. The week long camp includes elements of how to succeed in college math, three dimensional visualization skills, trips to local manufacturing plants and visits with their entire female engineering staff, parent programs, social programs, introduction to the campus computing environment and more. Reunions are held throughout the year, and the students are tracked in terms of academic performance, campus involvement, retention and other factors. This paper will present detailed camp content together with the supporting research and assessment data.


The Women in Engineering Program in the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University developed and implemented its first ESCape Summer Program in August 2008. It was designed to help rising first year women in engineering transition into the College of Engineering and bridge the gap from high school to college. Only women who scored a 640 and below on the SAT math section were invited to attend this 5 ½ day residential summer program. This was intentional due to data that show a strong correlation between retention of students in the College and the grade they receive in their first math class. The camp was made possible by a generous donation from John Deere, therefore the participants were offered an incentive of receiving a campus bookstore gift card after completion of the program.

In addition to helping participants transition into the University and College of Engineering, other goals of the summer program included preparing them for mathematics and entry level engineering courses, exposing the students to faculty and staff within the College and University, having them participate in hands-on activities and learn about various departments within engineering, and to build social networks and support systems with each other as well as upper class peers and faculty and staff.

Approximately 204 of the female students admitted to the College of Engineering were invited to attend the summer program which was held the first week of August. Of those invited, forty-four accepted, and thirty-four attended the program. (Some could not attend due to the fact they were participating in summer enrichment program aimed at underrepresented minority students which conflicted with the ESCape Program.) Approximately twenty-four percent of the ESCapees were underrepresented minorities.

Bottomley, L., & Titus-Becker, K., & Smolensky-Lewis, H. (2009, June), Escape To Engineering: A Summer Bridge Program For Women In Engineering Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5254

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