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Improving Engineering Curriculum and Enhancing Underrepresented Community College Student Success through a Summer Research Internship Program

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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

California on the Move: A Robust Array of Student Success Initiatives

Tagged Division

Two Year College Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.716.1 - 24.716.21



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Paper Authors


Nick P Rentsch Cañada College

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Nick Rentsch is an adjunct professor of physics, engineering, and computer science at Cañada College, Skyline College, and San Francisco State University. He received his M.S. degree from San Francisco State University in embedded electrical engineering and computer systems. His technical interests include embedded control, electronic hardware design, analog audio electronics, digital audio signal processing, and sound synthesis and electronics for musical applications. His educational research interests include technology-enhanced instruction and the development of novel instructional equipment and curricula for enhancing academic success in science and engineering.

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Amelito G Enriquez Canada College Orcid 16x16

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Amelito Enriquez is a professor of engineering and mathematics at Canada College in Redwood City, CA. He received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Irvine. His research interests include technology-enhanced instruction and increasing the representation of female, minority, and other underrepresented groups in mathematics, science, and engineering.

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Improving Engineering Curriculum and Enhancing Underrepresented Community College Student Success through a Summer Research Internship ProgramAbstractEfforts to remain competitive internationally in engineering and technology require a significantincrease in the number of STEM graduates in the United States. A recent report prepared by thePresident’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology states that currently less than fortypercent of students entering college to pursue a STEM career end up completing a STEM degree,citing that students typically leave the STEM field in the first two years of their program. One ofthe Council’s recommendations to address this issue is to engage students with researchexperiences in the first two years. Recently there has also been an increasing awareness of theimportant role that community colleges play in educating STEM professionals, especially inbroadening participation among students from underrepresented groups. This paper presents theresults of a collaborative project between a small Hispanic-serving community college and a largeurban university to address the retention and completion problems among community collegestudents through a summer research internship program that provides opportunities for freshmenand sophomore community college students to participate in engineering research under thesupervision of a university professor and a graduate student mentor. Developed through a grantfunded by the NASA Curriculum Improvements Partnership Award for the Integration ofResearch (CIPAIR) program, the summer internship program integrates research with curriculumimprovements by providing the framework for students to use their research experiences todevelop instructional materials to improve the engineering curriculum. The paper highlights theresults of the research done by the mechanical engineering student group who helped develop anovel haptic apparatus and associated curriculum for teaching upper division mechanicalengineering laboratory courses in control systems, mechatronics, and haptics. Over the ten-weekprogram the group made significant design improvements to the apparatus, manufactured a set ofthe devices to outfit a laboratory classroom at the university, and helped define instructionalmethods and learning outcomes for a mechatronics laboratory curriculum. In addition todeveloping research skills among participants, three years of implementation of the program havealso been successful in strengthening students' identity as engineers, in increasing student interestto further engage in research activities, and in enhancing student self-efficacy for successfullytransferring to a four-year university, completing a baccalaureate degree in engineering, andpursuing a graduate degree.

Rentsch, N. P., & Enriquez, A. G. (2014, June), Improving Engineering Curriculum and Enhancing Underrepresented Community College Student Success through a Summer Research Internship Program Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20608

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