June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Minorities in Engineering
14.595.1 - 14.595.13
Evaluation of Retention and Other Benefits of a Fifteen-Year Residential Bridge Program for Underrepresented Engineering Students
Since 1993, the College of Engineering at the University of Florida has conducted a first-year bridge program for over 600 underrepresented students in engineering. This program, entitled Successful Transition through Enhanced Preparation for Undergraduate Programs (STEPUP), consists of two major components, a six-week summer residential program and an eight-month non-residential program taking place during the students' first academic year.
The residential component of the program was developed to address the majority of the potential first-year issues and challenges that can negatively impact freshmen minority students. Some of these issues are addressed by providing quality role models and a positive exposure to the field of engineering. The rigorous six-week program involves a variety of components over a fourteen-hour day period, including supplemental instruction in chemistry and calculus, personal and professional development instruction, a course in problem-solving and design requiring use of AutoCAD (Autodesk, Inc., San Rafael, CA, USA) and MATLAB (The Math Works, Inc., Natick, MA, USA), and a course that introduces the students to every major offered in the College of Engineering. The non-residential component of the STEPUP program, conducted during the students' first fall and spring terms, involves a strong peer, faculty, and professional mentoring component along with extensive tutoring through required study halls. Other support structures of the program include corporate presentations and team-building activities.
This paper will present qualitative and quantitative results of the program, including improved retention, which is the primary objective of the STEPUP program. Less tangible, but equally important, benefits of STEPUP will also be discussed, especially as they relate to the positive impacts in the development of a peer community that remains intact throughout their undergraduate experience.
Diversity: essential for the engineering profession
One of the key challenges in engineering education outlined recently by the National Science Foundation1 involves retention of engineering students. The greatest attrition of engineering students is experienced during the first year, when students are often engaged in non-engineering classes and thus have no identity as an engineer offered to them.1 The average national retention experienced by students who begin their major as engineers is 60%, while females and minorities experience an even lower retention.1-3 As the United States rapidly approaches a population in which today’s minority will become the majority by 2042, 4 concerns have arisen within the engineering community over the lack of diversity in its workforce.5-6 Engineering designs will be targeted to an increasingly multiethnic population, thus calling for a mirroring of ethnicities in the design workforce. Recent reports echo this call to engineering educational institutions to recruit and retain a more diverse engineering student population and have prompted institutional studies to better understand what pedagogical and programmatic features in engineering education are most effective in retention of underrepresented students.7-12
Roberts, S., & Bray, K., & Shishodia, V., & Citty, J., & Mayhew, D., & Ogles, J., & Lindner, A. (2009, June), Evaluation Of Retention And Other Benefits Of A Fifteen Year Residential Bridge Program For Underrepresented Engineering Students Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4858
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