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Looking Back Over 30 Years Doctoral Fellowships At At&T Labs 1972 2002

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Industry Initiatives for Graduate Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.829.1 - 8.829.22

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Paper Authors

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Elaine Laws

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Looking Back Over 30 Years--AT&T Labs and Lucent Bell Laboratories Ph.D. Fellowship Programs 1972 - 2002

Elaine P. Laws--AT&T Labs

During 2002, AT&T Labs and Lucent Bell Laboratories will celebrate the 30th anniversary of their sponsorship of Ph.D. fellowship programs for under-represented minorities 1and women in science and engineering. In the early 1970s AT&T's research and development organization, then known as "Bell Laboratories," initiated efforts to recruit minority students for technical positions within the Labs. These efforts were the result of suggestions from the African American and women's communities within the R&D organization. Since the numbers of under-represented minority and women students graduating with Ph.D.s in disciplines relevant to the work of the Labs was very small, the Labs leadership realized that they would have to take an active role in identifying, encouraging, and supporting students in these groups to pursue studies in mathematics and engineering. This paper summarizes the common histories and goals of the programs, their launch and operation, their use of internships and mentors and the results of the combined AT&T and Lucent programs over the 30 year period of their operation.

Introduction Doctoral fellowship and grant programs were launched at AT&T's Bell Laboratories for under-represented minorities in 1972 and for women in 1974. They were respectively named the Cooperative Research Fellowship Program (CRFP) and the Graduate Research Fellowship Program for Women (GRPW). These two programs were funded by the Bell Laboratories research and development organization until 1992 at which time the AT&T Foundation assumed responsibility for their funding while Bell Labs R&D staff continued to support student recruiting, selection, internships and mentoring of students in these programs. With AT&T's trivestiture in 1996, Bell Labs was split between AT&T and the newly formed Lucent Technologies. The Bell Labs name was retained by Lucent, and AT&T's R&D organization became known as AT&T Labs. The fellowship and grant programs continued in the two companies with each company's foundations providing funding for the programs. The students in progress in the programs were split between the two organizations based on their disciplines and research focus and the R&D staff of each organization continued its efforts in recruiting, selecting, and providing internships and mentoring for the students. AT&T Labs combined the elements of the fellowship and grant programs for minorities and women into one program and named its program the AT&T Labs Fellowship Program (ALFP) while Lucent Bell Laboratories continued to maintain the two programs separately.

1 Minorities considered under-represented in engineering, mathematics, and science include African Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics.

"Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2003, American Society for Engineering Education"

Laws, E. (2003, June), Looking Back Over 30 Years Doctoral Fellowships At At&T Labs 1972 2002 Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee.

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