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Lessons Learned from a Program to Encourage and Enable Transfer Students to Complete their Engineering Degrees

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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

Two-year Institutions Help Fill the STEM Pipeline

Tagged Division

Two Year College Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.889.1 - 25.889.12



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Paper Authors

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Elaine P. Scott Seattle Pacific University

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Hannah F. Azevedo Seattle Pacific University

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Lessons Learned from a Program to Encourage and Enable Transfer Students to Complete their Engineering DegreesAbstractOur Engineering Department is working to increase the number of community college transferstudents in our engineering program. The National Science Foundation has supported this effortthrough a grant in its S-STEM program. The goal of the grant, Engaging the Community toAchieve Success in Engineering (ECASE), is to encourage and enable academically talented, butfinancially needy students from local community colleges to enter the workforce or continue ingraduate studies following completion of a baccalaureate degree in electrical engineering at ourinstitution. Our specific objectives are to 1) provide community college transfer students (ourECASE Scholars) with full ($10,000/year) or partial ($5,000/year) scholarships to complete theirelectrical engineering degrees in our program, 2) increase significantly the diversity of ourincoming engineering students, 3) maintain retention rates significantly above national averages,4) increase the number of well educated and skilled engineers in the workforce, and 5)institutionalize our focus on community college transfer students. This paper is focused on thelessoned learned (positive and negative) thus far in our efforts to achieve each of theseobjectives.Thus far, scholarships have been awarded to 23 different students in three different cohorts.Scholarships were awarded using the following: academic preparedness (i.e., had they completedall of their lower division math and physics requirements); academic achievement (based onGPA from transfer institution); financial need (based on FASFA scores); letters ofrecommendation; and a personal statement. With regards to the second objective, the ECASEprogram has significantly increased the diversity of our engineering student body. Thirty-ninepercent of our ECASE scholars are from U.S. ethnic minority backgrounds. This compares witha campus average of 33 percent for transfer students and 20 percent for the overall studentpopulation. Furthermore, six scholars were first generation college students, and four began theprogram over the age of 30. Many of these students came from the same community college – ahighly diverse institution with an S-STEM program of its own. Our partnership with this collegehas been very beneficial. Thus far, all but three of the Scholars have continued in their studies orgraduated in electrical engineering; one of these has switched to a computer science major,another has switched to a non-STEM major, and the third is now no longer in school. Thus far,our retention in electrical engineering is 87 percent and our retention in STEM overall is nearly91 percent. Two of the three who switched out of electrical engineering were older students(>30), and two cited family reasons for the change. Family obligations were a major issue for thestudent who is no longer in school. Thus far, six ECASE scholars have graduated with degrees inelectrical engineering. One, a female Native American student, is attending graduate school inelectrical engineering, and the other five scholars are working in engineering positions inindustry. Finally, institutionalizing our focus on community college transfer students hasrequired cooperation between our engineering faculty and our admissions department. To aid inthis effort, our program coordinator for the ECASE project also works part time in theadmissions department as a transfer student admissions counselor. This has opened up a two-waycommunication link between our department and admissions, and has been very beneficial to ourprogram.

Scott, E. P., & Azevedo, H. F. (2012, June), Lessons Learned from a Program to Encourage and Enable Transfer Students to Complete their Engineering Degrees Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21646

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