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Exploring Collaborations with Non-Metropolitan Community Colleges to Graduate more Engineering and Computer Science Students with Bachelor's and Graduate Degrees

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Build Diversity in Engineering Graduate Programs

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.6.1 - 22.6.15



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Paper Authors


Mary R. Anderson-Rowland Arizona State University

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Mary R. Anderson-Rowland is the PI of an NSF STEP grant to work with five non-metropolitan community colleges to produce more engineers, especially female and underrepresented minority engineers. She also directs three academic scholarship programs, including one for transfer students. An Associate Professor in Computing, Informatics, and Systems Design Engineering, she was the Associate Dean of Student affairs in the Ira a. Fulton School of Engineering at ASU from 1993 - 2004. She was named a top five percent engineering teacher for 2009 - 2010. She received the WEPAN Engineering Educator Award 2009, ASEE Minorities Award 2006, the SHPE Educator of the Year 2005, and the National Engineering Award in 2003, the highest honor given by AAES. In 2002, she was named the Distinguished Engineering Educator by the Society of Women Engineers. Her awards are based on her mentoring of students, especially women and underrepresented minority students, and her research in the areas of recruitment and retention. A SWE and ASEE Fellow, she is a frequent speaker on career opportunities and diversity in engineering.

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Anita Grierson Arizona State University


Rakesh Pangasa Arizona Western College

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Rakesh Pangasa is the PI of the Arizona Western College METSTEP program. After practicing industrial R&D management in cement, concrete, and construction industries for 14 years at the Cement Research Institute of India, he switched, in 1986, to teaching, training, and consulting. Since then he has been engaged in teaching mathematics and engineering at Arizona Western College and has taught at all the three state universities in Arizona. He has also taught undergraduate and graduate students in business administration, information systems, operations management, and strategic management for Northern Arizona University and for Webster University at their campuses in Yuma, Denver, Vienna and Shanghai. He has also worked as commissioning engineer for FLSmidth training operators at a few plants of American Electric Power, and as Senior Computer Systems Analyst for Yuma proving Grounds on Future Combat Systems Software Interoperability. In his efforts towards motivating high school students to explore engineering, he has launched the first Yuma community robotic team for regional competition. His research interests and passion include building strong relations amongst academics, research and industry. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from Panjab University in 1971, and Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi in 1986.

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Clark Vangilder Central Arizona College

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Clark VanGilder, Central Arizona College, is the PI of the Central Arizona Community College METSTEP program. Clark is a former Naval Nuclear Propulsion Plant Operator prior to receiving a Bachelors Degree in Mathematics from Grand Canyon University in 1995 and a Masters Degree in Physics from Arizona State University in 2004. Central Arizona College hired Clark in 2008 to take over the Physics program as well as resurrect the pre-engineering program in conjunction with two separate grant opportunities, one including the exploratory STEP grant that has evolved into METSTEP. The introductory design course has been articulated in that time frame and successfully conducted four times now. Additionally, Clark has created new coursework in engineering programming (numerical methods) that are presently in articulation, with more courses in the works with an aim to creating an engineering associates degree program.

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Richard A. Hall Jr. Cochise Community College

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Richard (Bubba) Hall is the PI of the NSF Cochise Community College METSTEP program. He is the Dean of Mathematics and Science at Cochise College. He has worked with the ASU METS program since the Fall of 2007 to build a pathway for Cochise College engineering students to Arizona State. Under his supervision, Cochise College has developed an Associate of Science degree in Engineering along with introductory and programming courses for engineering. Dr. Hall also plays an important support role in the Running Start program. Most importantly, a team of math, science, and engineering instructors has been formed to help lead all engineering efforts at Cochise. JoAnn Deakin, Feng Yang, and Kristy Ritter have all played important roles in the progress made up to this point.

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Summary: Exploring Collaborations with Non-Metropolitan Community Colleges to Graduate More Engineering and Computer Science Students with Bachelor’s and Graduate DegreesIn Fall 2008, the National Science Foundation funded a one-year grant (witha no-cost extension) to explore the feasibility of a four-year researchinstitution working with three non-metropolitan community colleges toencourage more students to study engineering and computer science and toassist them with their transfer to earn a BS/E. An emphasis is also placed oninvolving women and underrepresented minority students and encouragingstudents to go right on to graduate school.In 2002 the first author began working with community colleges (CCs) localto the university. Collaborations were established and the CCs anduniversity worked together to encourage high school students to begin theirengineering or computer science degrees at a CC, to make a smooth transferto a four-year institution, to have financial support and resources readilyavailable after transfer, and to encourage the student to go for a Master’s orPhD degree.In Fall 2008, we began to investigate how the successful activities developedwith local CCs could be adapted, expanded, and modified to work with non-metropolitan (rural) CCs. The CCs chosen were Arizona Western, ArizonaCentral, and Cochise. These CCs were not located close to ASU or anyuniversity and were from one to four hours distance by car. In addition, theCCs had never had professors, staff, and students from any university evervisit them. A primary liaison at each CC led the CC efforts.The early results of this grant have been reported and this paper will give asummary of the results. The math, science, and engineering classes at eachof the three CCs have been given a “shot in the arm” due to this grant. Thesuccess of this project led to the funding of an NSF STEP grant to work withthese three CCs plus two additional rural CCs.A major research question in this grant was what it would take to entice newtransfer students to enroll in an Academic Success class that would helpthem increase their GPA and retention after transfer. The students would bein addition to the academic scholarship students ($4,000/yr scholarship) whoare required to take the class as part of their scholarship. We learned that$300 is sufficient to interest students. After three semesters, 20 students hadtaken the course for the $300 scholarship and reported back that the coursewas very valuable to them. Due to word-of-mouth and encouragementthrough the transfer center, over 30 students are voluntarily enrolled for theacademic success class in Fall 2010, most of whom are working for the $300scholarship.Sixty percent of the participants in the projects are women andunderrepresented minority students. Student feedback by gender andethnicity will also be included in the paper.

Anderson-Rowland, M. R., & Grierson, A., & Pangasa, R., & Vangilder, C., & Hall, R. A. (2011, June), Exploring Collaborations with Non-Metropolitan Community Colleges to Graduate more Engineering and Computer Science Students with Bachelor's and Graduate Degrees Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17280

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