Asee peer logo

Increasing the Retention of Under-Represented Students in Engineering Through Connections with an Industry Advisory Committee

Download Paper |


2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Curricular Innovations in College-Industry Partnerships

Tagged Division

College Industry Partnerships

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.769.1 - 25.769.6



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Karen T. Marosi Bucknell University

visit author page

Karen Marosi has been Associate Dean of Engineering at Bucknell University for 11 years. She has worked extensively in the area of student success in undergraduate engineering programs and has played a major role in the launching of the Engineering Success Alliance Program at Bucknell. Marosi holds a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the Pennsylvania State University and is a 2011 alumnus of the HERS Women in Higher Education Leadership Institute.

visit author page


Barbra Steinhurst Bucknell University

visit author page

Barbra Steinhurst is the Director of the Engineering Success Alliance. She began her career as a statistician in Washington, D.C. Since then, she has taught mathematics at a variety of post-secondary institutions and has worked as a director in education-related non-profits. She earned an M.S. in mathematics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Increasing the Retention of Under-Represented Students in Engineering Through Connections with An Industry Advisory BoardMeeting the increasing demands from Industry for engineering graduates from diversebackgrounds poses a challenge for many universities. These challenges stem in part from a lackof recruitment of engineering majors from inner city and rural high schools and higher attritionrates for students from under-resourced high schools. Attrition rates are attributed to manyfactors including under-preparation for the mathematical and scientific rigor of an engineeringcurriculum and lack of academic capital from which to draw a general understanding of highereducation and how to take full advantage of its offerings.In an effort to increase retention and completion rates among under-represented students theCollege of Engineering has worked closely with a premier international civil engineering firm toestablish the Engineering Success Alliance, or ESA. The ESA focuses on first-year engineeringstudents from various inner-city recruiting programs and students from under-represented groupsin engineering whose admissions materials suggest they might need extra academic supportduring the first two critical years in an engineering curriculum. Students are invited to participatein the ESA prior to their arrival on campus. Those who accept the invitation are then offered avariety of support activities targeted primarily at building mathematics skills, study skills, andacademic capital. It is expected that these activities will assist in the retention of these students inengineering during the critical first two years of intense preparation for their engineering courses.Integral to this process is an exceptionally active and motivated Advisory Board made up ofalumni from a variety of engineering disciplines and graduation years. These industry partnerswork not only to help raise funds to endow the program but also meet regularly with the studentsto mentor and inspire. The students and alumni share multiple meals a year together on campusand the students have been invited to visit partner offices and project sites. In exchange for thestudents’ participation in the ESA activities, the industry partners will facilitate internship andprofessional development activities in the third and fourth years of the students engineeringprogram. When the students in the ESA program graduate the advisory board members willbenefit from have built relationships with well-prepared engineering graduates with diverseperspectives and backgrounds. The true impact of the ESA has proven to be in the interactionsbetween the industry partners and the students. Student motivation and persistence isimmediately and noticeably different after each of these interactions. While the ESA is a youngprogram that has not yet seen its first graduating class, preliminary assessments show that thepresence of the advisory board in this program has already proven integral to its success.

Marosi, K. T., & Steinhurst, B. (2012, June), Increasing the Retention of Under-Represented Students in Engineering Through Connections with an Industry Advisory Committee Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21526

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: © 2012 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