Asee peer logo

Help Me Help You: Building a Support Network for Minority Engineering Students

Download Paper |


2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Mentoring Minority Students

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.656.1 - 23.656.12



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Walter C. Lee Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Walter Lee is a PhD student in the Department of Engineering Education at Polytechnic Institute and State University, where he also serves as a program assistant for the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity. His research interests include student retention & recruitment, diversity, motivation and first-year experiences in engineering. Mr. Lee received an NSF-GRFP Fellowship in Spring 2012 focusing on how student support centers impact the experience of undergraduate engineering students, specifically women and underrepresented minorities. He is working towards a M.S. in Industrial & Systems Engineering and he received his B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Clemson University.

visit author page


Kelly J Cross Virginia Tech

visit author page

Kelly Cross earned her Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the Purdue University in 2007. She earned her Master’s of Science in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Cincinnati in 2011. Ms. Cross is currently in the third year of the Engineering Education PhD program at Virginia Tech. She is currently involved with multiple educational research projects with faculty at Virginia Tech. Her research interests include assessment, diversity, teamwork and communication skills, and identity construction.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Innovative  retention/development  programs  for  undergraduate  minority  engineering  students       Help Me Help You: Building a Support Network for Minority Engineering StudentsIn an attempt to retain undergraduates from underrepresented population, engineering colleges –and universities in a broader sense – often offer support to these students in various forms.However, students are not always aware of these resources and their academic problems can gounnoticed until it is too late to intervene. To ensure students are not only aware of the availableresources but also have the access and rapport to encourage them to seek the necessaryassistance, a student centered support group was developed. The voluntary program, Help MeHelp You (HMHY), commenced by inviting first-year African-American engineering students toparticipate and focused on encouraging students to accomplish the program theme: gettingP.A.I.D. This included (1) establishing Priorities, (2) holding themselves Accountable, (3) takingInitiative, and (4) having Discipline regarding their academic choices. The idea is that followingP.A.I.D. would ultimately result in improved academic performance and an enhancedundergraduate experience. The program was designed as a community of practice to create anenvironment that provided first-year engineering students with a resource that may be otherwiseunavailable, an academic and social support network of other young black students who areworking towards similar goals (i.e. earning an engineering degree or completing their degreeprogram). The program coordinator envisioned the program as a means to augment the culturewithin the college where helping one another and seeking support become a social norm andcommon practice among student peers or cohorts.During the 2005-2006 academic year, the College of Engineering developed the PACT, aretention program for first-year African-American men in engineering. After the graduation ofthe first-cohort, the program lost momentum and was discontinued. HMHY was developed to bea revamped and updated version of the PACT program. The focus and goals of program werespecifically designed to promote self-sustaining components and prevent the discontinuity fromoccurring again. The impacts of HMHY on the inaugural group of students were assessed with acombination of quantitative and qualitative approaches including surveys and interviews.Though no quantitative gains were made in the area of GPA, students did report academic andsocial support resulting from their participation in the program. Other features assessed withinthe program include the development of a community of practice, the level of identification withthe program, and the overall participation. The purpose of this paper is to discuss thedevelopment and assessment of this innovative retention program. The paper begins with a briefoverview of the program. Next, the assessment strategy will be discussed. The paper concludeswith how the support program impacted the participating African American students inengineering for the 2011-2012 academic year and future recommendations.

Lee, W. C., & Cross, K. J. (2013, June), Help Me Help You: Building a Support Network for Minority Engineering Students Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19670

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: © 2013 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