June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Minorities in Engineering
13.751.1 - 13.751.20
INSPIRE: A low-cost, urban pre-college engineering program
For more than 20 years, the University of Louisville has conducted the INSPIRE pre-college program. The primary purpose of the program is to expose ethnic minority students and females to the various fields of engineering offered at the University. The ultimate goal of the program is to increase the number of students historically under-represented in engineering, particularly at the University. This paper will highlight a low-cost, urban summer pre-college program targeting students under-represented in engineering. With respect to its impact on minority engineering recruitment, the program has been one of the intervention strategies used at the University of Louisville (UofL) to introduce URMs to various fields of engineering. An overview of the INSPIRE program, selected activities, costs and outcomes will be described. Critical success factors, anecdotal observations, and challenges faced by program administrators will also be discussed.
According to a recent report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), located within the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences, the U.S. population has become more diverse over the past two decades as the minority population groups (African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians/Alaskan Natives, and Asians/ Pacific Islanders) have increased more rapidly than the White population. As projected for 2005, minorities made up approximately 33 percent of the U.S. population. These same minority groups are expected to represent nearly 39 percent of the total population by the year 2020. Furthermore, according to the latest population projections revealed by the US Census Bureau and depicted in Figure 1, these minority population groups are expected to be more than half (52 percent) of the resident college-age (18–24 years old) population of the United States by 2050. Additionally, just about a quarter century ago, the National Science Board’s Commission on Precollege Education in the Mathematics, Science, and Technology (MST) assessed the state of US precollege education in the subject fields and found it seriously lacking to meet the projected demand.
In the late 1980’s the Task Force of Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Technology called for cooperation among schools, colleges, industry and federal and state governments to increase the pool of science and engineering talent, particularly for underrepresented minority groups, through programs similar to those instituted following the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957—which ushered in new political, military, technological, and scientific developments. Two decades later, the pipeline statistics are not as promising given the seriousness of the need for such technical skills.
According to the 2002 data provided by the Engineering Workforce Commission, Whites earned 68.68% of the bachelors degrees awarded in the various engineering disciplines while African- American only earned 5.09%. Hispanic recipients were slightly higher than that of African- Americans at 6.52% and American Indians were less than one-half of a percent. The Science
Hart, B., & Hinton-Hudson, V., & Lewis, J. (2008, June), Inspire: A Low Cost Pre College Engineering Enrichment Program Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4243
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