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Impact of Mentoring and Enrichment Activities on the Academic Careers of Underrepresented STEM Doctoral Students

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Shaping the Future: Structured Mentoring for Today's Diverse Engineering Student Populations

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.887.1 - 26.887.14



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Paper Authors


Jonathan Gordon Georgia Institute of Technology

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Dr. Gordon received his B.Sc. in Psychology and History from the University of Toronto and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He worked as a post-doctoral research associate in the University of North Carolina Office of Institutional Research, and then for the University System of Georgia in the Office of Strategic Research and Analysis. He joined the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2002, and has worked on many assessment, research, and evaluation projects, including the measurement of student learning outcomes in general education, longitudinal research on the effects of undergraduate engineering research experiences on minority enrollment in graduate school, and the evaluation of the Georgia Tech International and Research Plans. He is currently working on an upcoming evaluation of service learning and sustainability project as part of Georgia Tech’s Quality Enhancement Plan.

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Comas Lamar Haynes Georgia Institute of Technology

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Comas Lamar Haynes is a Principal Research Engineer / faculty member of the Georgia Tech Research Institute and Joint Faculty Appointee at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His research includes modeling steady state and transient behavior of advanced energy systems, inclusive of their thermal management, and the characterization and optimization of novel cycles. He has advised graduate and undergraduate research assistants and has received multi-agency funding for energy systems analysis and development. Sponsor examples include the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and NASA. Dr. Haynes also develops fuel cells and alternative energy systems curricula for public and college courses and experimental laboratories. Additionally, he is the co-developer of the outreach initiative, Educators Leading Energy Conservation and Training Researchers of Diverse Ethnicities (ELECTRoDE). He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Florida A&M University and his graduate degrees (culminating in a Ph.D.) from Georgia Tech; and all of the degrees are in the discipline of Mechanical Engineering.

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Gary S. May Georgia Institute of Technology

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Gary S. May received the B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1985 and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California at Berkeley in 1987 and 1991, respectively.

He is currently Dean of the College of Engineering at Georgia Tech. In that capacity, he serves as the chief academic officer of the college and provides leadership to over 400 faculty members and more than13,000 students in the fourth ranked engineering program in the nation. Prior to his current appointment, Dr. May was the Steve W. Chaddick School Chair of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech from 2005-2011. His research is in the field of computer-aided manufacturing of integrated circuits, and his interests include semiconductor process and equipment modeling, process simulation and control, automated process and equipment diagnosis, yield modeling, and broadening participation in STEM education. Dr. May is a fellow of the IEEE and AAAS.

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Value of Mentoring and Focused Enrichment Activities in Facilitating Persistence and Academic Careers among Underrepresented STEM Doctoral StudentsWhile much national attention has been focused on increasing the participation ofunderrepresented minorities (URMs) in the STEM fields, considerable gaps remain in terms ofeducational attainment between URMs and other racial/ethnic groups. Differences areparticularly stark at the doctoral levels, where underrepresented minorities accounted for only3.3% of STEM PhDs awarded in 2005 (National Science Foundation, 2011). A recentlongitudinal study of minority PhDs in STEM disciplines found that long-term academic success(i.e., placement and tenure for URM faculty members) requires long-term development bothwithin and beyond graduate school. Such training must include multi-faceted professionaldevelopment (e.g., grant writing, public speaking, and publishing research), as well as socialdynamics such as networking within the STEM community (MacLachlan, 2006). The NationalScience Foundation (NSF) has responded to these challenges with the Alliances for GraduateEducation and the Professoriate (AGEP) program. AGEP seeks to increase the number ofunderrepresented students receiving doctoral degrees in STEM disciplines—with particularattention upon increasing the number who will enter the professoriate in these disciplines andserve as mentors to promising minority scholars in the educational pipeline.This paper seeks to examine the longitudinal impact of one such program at a large engineeringschool in the Southeast. The program Facilitating Academic Careers in Engineering and Science(FACES) was designed to provide a set of co-curricular enrichment activities that foster thenecessary mentoring of underrepresented minorities. The research design utilized a survey ofalumni (who graduated between 2003 and 2011), and it measured their employment outcomesand perceptions of career preparation. Utilizing parametric (ANOVA) and non-parametricstatistical methods, participants in the program were compared to two control groups—URMSTEM graduates who did not participate in the mentorship program and non-URM STEMgraduates. The research questions of interest: 1) Are doctoral recipients who participated in the FACES program more likely to gain employment in academia? 2) Are there differences in self-reported professional skills for former FACES fellows when compared to other URM doctoral recipients as well as to non-URM PhDs?Results demonstrate that FACES participants were over 2.5 times more likely to report workingin a faculty or academic professional position than were the non-URM STEM graduates, andwere nearly twice as likely compared with URM graduates without the program experience.Additionally, on seven of a set of 15 knowledge, skills, and abilities items, ANOVA resultsdemonstrated higher levels of preparation for program participants. The paper will describespecific programmatic approaches that were effective in URM graduate persistence andsubsequent placement into academic (as opposed to industrial) careers.ReferencesMacLachlan, A. (2006). Developing graduate students of color for the professoriate in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). UC Berkeley: Center for Studies in Higher Education. Retrieved from: Science Foundation. (2011). Women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science and engineering. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation.

Gordon, J., & Haynes, C. L., & May, G. S. (2015, June), Impact of Mentoring and Enrichment Activities on the Academic Careers of Underrepresented STEM Doctoral Students Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24224

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