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Examining the Explanatory Variables that Impact Graduate Engineering Student Enrollment

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Exploration of Trends in Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.599.1 - 25.599.16

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Paper Authors


Manoj K. Jha Morgan State University

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Manoj K. Jha is professor and Founding Director of the Center for Advanced Transportation and Infrastructure Engineering Research (CATIER) in the Department of Civil Engineering at the Morgan State University, Baltimore, Md., USA. He obtained a Ph.D. in civil engineering with transportation specialization from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2000; a M.S. degree in mechanical engineering from the Old Dominion University in 1993; and a B.E. degree in mechanical engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Durgapur, India, in 1991. He also attended the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute during 1993-94 as a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering and Virginia Tech.’s National Capital campus as a postdoctoral Research Fellow in civil engineering during 2000-01. Prior to joining the Morgan State University, Jha worked for the Maryland State Highway Administration for about seven years from 1994 to 2001. He is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of Maryland since 1997. Jha’s research interests are in developing computational models for sustainable transportation infrastructure, three-dimensional highway design, highway and rail alignment optimization, and route optimization for civilian and military applications. For his scholastic and research achievements, Jha has received several awards, among which are the 2010 best paper award by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) presented at the 4th International Symposium on Highway Geometric Design, Valencia, Spain on June 2, 2010; 2008 National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Technology Transfer Research (STTR) award; 2005 and 2006 United Negro College Funds Special Program/Department of Defense (UNCFSP/DoD) Faculty Development Awards; 2005 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Summer Faculty Research award by the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) Center of Excellence, University of Maryland, College Park, and 2005 National Science Foundation’s Pan-American Advanced Study Institute on Transportation Sciences (NSF-PASI-TS) award by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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Reginald Amory Morgan State University

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Reginald L. Amory is professor and Chair of the Department of Civil Engineering at Morgan State University. Presently, he is engaged in developing innovative programs which will be used to deliver a much more comprehensive level of undergraduate engineering education to new civil engineering students. Having served on engineering faculties at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, North Carolina A&T State University, and Northeastern University, he is using his particular knowledge and experience to guide Morgan State University’s civil engineering thrust in the School of Engineering’s new, innovative master's and doctorate of engineering degree programs. In particular, he has positioned the department to conduct research and pursue entrepreneurial activities in civil infrastructure and service systems and broaden its traditional technological thrust to include more comprehensive interdisciplinary areas which include problems in human resource development, economic development and competitiveness, public health, biological processes, and environmental security. Amory, the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has had a distinguished career which is noted for its breadth as well as its depth. His career has spanned professional practice, teaching, administration, research, and consulting in the private, university, industry, and government sectors. Early in his career, he participated with other engineers in the design of many of the earliest prestressed concrete structures in the eastern part of the United States. Having served on the faculties of four universities, he has taught more than 8,500 students and taught 33 different courses in the disciplines of structural engineering, structural mechanics, the mechanical behavior of materials, and architectural engineering. Amory has been particularly successful in engineering education. As one of the youngest engineers, at 31 years of age, ever appointed Dean of a School of Engineering, he received North Carolina A&T State University’s initial Outstanding Educator’s Award. During his tenure at Northeastern University, he held the ALCOA Chair in Civil Engineering and served as professor of civil engineering. He has held positions at Westinghouse Laboratories as Senior Engineer and General Electric Research Laboratories as Research Engineer, where he conducted research into problems in dynamic plasticity and high-pressure physics, respectively. He has served as Chief Scientist for Corporate
Research for B&M Technological Services and President of RMS Science and Technology, a research and development firm he owns. Amory’s government experience includes service as a Special Assistant in the U. S. Department of Energy and the Energy Research and Development Administration, where he also served as a consultant to business, labor, and governmental affairs. A Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers, he has served as a consultant to many organizations including the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Energy, National Academy of Engineering, National Science Foundation, General Electric Company, and Mobil Oil Corporation. On an international level, Amory has served as Visiting Scholar at Cambridge University, Cambridge, England where he conducted research in the area of buckling of steel plate bridges. Amory has received many honors and awards including the 1999 Outstanding Civil Engineering Educator Award from the Maryland Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers for sustained and unusual contributions to the advancement of the civil engineering profession and service to mankind. Amory is married to Dr. Marion Amory, an Assistant Professor of education and Coordinator of the Graduate Elementary Education program at Bowie State University.

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Examining country specific socio-economic variables to measure the gap between domestic and international students seeking graduate studies in the US in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fieldsTraditionally, domestic students in the U.S. have been less aggressive in seeking graduateeducation (especially at the doctoral level) compared to international students in STEM fields.This issue has been widely recognized and extensively discussed in recent years by agencies,such as the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), National Science Foundation (NSF), andthe American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE). The famous NAE press book entitled“Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a BrighterEconomic Future” attempts to delve deeper into this issue and offers many recommendations,including increased funding for graduate studies and research. The author of this paper offersanother hypothesis largely responsible for the reluctance of U.S. born students seeking graduateeducation, that is, the wider gap between the socio-economic status of the U.S. and some Asiancountries (China, India, South Korea, in particular) from which the influx of graduate degreeseeking students seems to be the highest. The author believes that increased funding for graduatestudies and research alone may not be effective in boosting the number of domestic studentsseeking graduate studies in STEM fields. In order to test the hypothesis, the enrollment trend and the socio-economiccharacteristics of the domestic and international students in the graduate transportationengineering program at the Morgan State University will be analyzed over a ten year periodbetween Fall 2001-Fall 2011. Since Morgan State University is classified as a Historically BlackCollege and University (HBCU) it is expected that the trend may be different at other majorityschools. Therefore, an attempt will be made to gather the enrollment data at a few majoruniversities and at least one more HBCU with a graduate transportation engineering program fora fair and consistent comparison. Some explanatory country specific socio-economic variablesthat will be considered in the analysis are: household income, national mandate and familymotivation to pursue graduate study in STEM fields, quality-of-life and living standard, postgraduation employment opportunities, salary gaps, and career opportunities in non-STEM fields,such as sports, music, and theatrical performance. The results are expected to be quite promisingsince it will help better understand the wider gap between domestic and international studentsseeking graduate degrees in the U.S. in STEM fields.

Jha, M. K., & Amory, R. (2012, June), Examining the Explanatory Variables that Impact Graduate Engineering Student Enrollment Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas.

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