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How to Recruit and Retain Students using an Engineering Ambassador

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Models of community engagement practices

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.677.1 - 24.677.13



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Paper Authors

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Jeffrey Scott Bates University of Utah


Karen J. Krapcho University of Utah

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Karen J Krapcho, M.S., is the Outreach Coordinator for NSF grant # 0652982 Utah's Engineers: A Statewide Initiative for Growth. Many of the programs discussed in this paper were funded (in part) from this grant.

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Crystal Orantes University of Utah

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How to Recruit and Retain Students using an Engineering Ambassador ProgramThe mission of the engineering ambassador program, in the college of engineering at a largeresearch university in the western United States, is to recruit prospective students intoengineering majors and to retain students who work as engineering ambassadors. The program,as implemented today, is a result of merging two existing programs: the NSF-funded Utah’sEngineers: A Statewide Initiative for Growth and the engineering ambassador program throughthe college of engineering. Engineering ambassadors are charged with preparing and presentinghands-on engineering activities to high school students throughout the state. These activities takeplace in school classrooms, public libraries, on the university campus and diverse locationsaround the state. Undergraduate students share their enthusiasm for studying engineering andhelp others develop personal connections to engineering.Engineering ambassadors promote the value of a college education, inspire prospective studentsto consider engineering as a program of study and to prepare for engineering coursework bytaking rigorous math and science classes. Furthermore, they help students see the value of theirhigh school science and math courses by providing examples of how these subjects are used inspecific applications in different engineering careers. The ambassadors also benefit; theirinvolvement reinforces their career choice and develops their presentation and speaking skills.The program provides the ambassadors with a cohort of other engineering students with sharedpassion and interest in engineering. Participation in this program results in higher graduationrates and a greater interest in continuing on to graduate school. The value of this program is best exemplified by the ambassadors themselves. Two of thecurrent ambassadors have participated in the program for the last four years. Prior to this theyboth attended summer programs run by the college of engineering that were facilitated by formerambassadors. These students were recruited into engineering and consequently joined theambassador program. Data has been collected from the engineering ambassadors and highschool students that has demonstrated the effectiveness of having current engineering studentsshare their enthusiasm with prospective students in a near-peer relationship.The engineering ambassador program has been an integral program with helping to increase theenrollment of entering freshmen students into the college of engineering. While the most visiblebenefit is demonstrated through the increase in freshman enrollment, one-hundred percent of thestudents who have been involved in the ambassador program have been retained and havegraduated from the college of engineering. This illustrates that the program is beneficial not onlyin recruiting prospective students, but also in retaining current students.

Bates, J. S., & Krapcho, K. J., & Orantes, C. (2014, June), How to Recruit and Retain Students using an Engineering Ambassador Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20568

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