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Making a Difference: How to Recruit More Community College Women and Underrepresented Minority Students into Engineering and Computer Science

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Recruitment & Retention of Women II

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1032.1 - 22.1032.10



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Paper Authors


Mary R. Anderson-Rowland Arizona State University

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Mary R. Anderson-Rowland is the PI of an NSF STEP grant to work with five non-metropolitan community colleges to produce more engineers, especially female and underrepresented minority engineers. She also directs three academic scholarship programs, including one for transfer students. An Associate Professor in Computing, Informatics, and Systems Design Engineering, she was the Associate Dean of Student affairs in the Ira a. Fulton School of Engineering at ASU from 1993 - 2004. She was named a top 5% engineering teacher for 2009 - 2010. She received the WEPAN Engineering Educator Award 2009, ASEE Minorities Award 2006, the SHPE Educator of the Year 2005, and the National Engineering Award in 2003, the highest honor given by AAES. In 2002, she was named the Distinguished Engineering Educator by the Society of Women Engineers. Her awards are based on her mentoring of students, especially women and underrepresented minority students, and her research in the areas of recruitment and retention. A SWE and ASEE Fellow, she is a frequent speaker on career opportunities and diversity in engineering.

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Armando A. Rodriguez Arizona State University

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Armando A. Rodriguez is the co-PI of the NSF METSTEP grant to work with
non-metropolitan community colleges to produce more engineers, especially female and
underrepresented minority engineers. He's the PI on two NSF S-STEM grants providing academic and career guidance to students in CSEM fields. He is a Professor of Electrical Engineering within the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU. Prior to joining ASU, he worked at MIT, IBM, AT&T Bell Laboratories and Raytheon Missile Systems. He has consulted for Eglin Air Force Base, Boeing Defense and Space Systems, Honeywell and NASA. He has authored over 190 technical papers and three engineering texts. He has given more than 60 invited presentations -including 13 plenaries. Since 1994, he has directed an extensive engineering mentoring-research program that has served over 300 students. He's an AT&T Bell Labs Fellow, Boeing A.D. Welliver Fellow, and the recipient of a 1998 White House Presidential Excellence Award for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering. He has also received numerous teaching/mentoring excellence awards. His research includes control systems, hypersonic vehicles, sustainability, low power electronic systems, and portfolio management. work with five non-metropolitan community colleges.

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Anita Grierson Arizona State University

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Anita E. Grierson is the Director of the METS Center in the Ira A. Fulton School of
Engineering at ASU. She is now in her third year of guiding the activities of the METS Center and overseeing its staff of primarily transfer students. Ms. Grierson has over 10 years corporate experience in Program Management, Business Development, and Biomechanical Engineering, with products as diverse as air bag systems for helicopters, body armor, and orthopedic implants. She received her Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1990, her Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University in 1994, and a Masters in Business Administration from Arizona State University in 2000.

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Making a Difference: How to Recruit More Community College Women and Underrepresented Minority Students Into Engineering and Computer ScienceAlthough there are many reasons to choose to go to a community college, economicsusually being a large factor, many students make this choice because they don’t know inwhich field they want to major. Research has shown that many students do not chooseengineering or computer science as a major until after they are at the community college.Students who come from rural (non-metropolitan) areas often choose a communitycollege because it is close and, due to a lack of diverse role models, may not know whichcareer pathway to choose. “Intrusive advising” can be very effective on high school andcommunity college students when they are asked to consider what type of career theywould like to have and then presented with the creative, people-helping, challenging,innovative, exciting careers that are available in engineering and computer science. Forthe first time engineering and computer science are on the radar for these students. Thestudents are further presented with what engineers do and the 21st Century challenges tatengineers now face.Through an NSF STEP grant, a Research I university is collaborating with five non-metropolitan community colleges, some of which are minority institutions, to encouragemore students to study engineering and computer science, to make their transfer easier,and to support the students after they have transferred. The first step is to get the highschool or community college students’ attention and to have them consider engineeringand computer science. Most of these students have never met an engineer and have neverbeen visited by someone from a university.“Do you have any idea of the impact that you are making on these students by talking tothem about career planning and a career in engineering or computer science?” Thisquestion was asked of university professors who had just visited a non-metropolitancommunity college where students grow up and are familiar with only two or threecareers available in their area.This paper describes the impact of information and recruitment visits by universityprofessors, staff, and students on high school and community college students at non-metropolitan community colleges. The paper will also describe the experiences ofstudents who then take this advice and transfer to the university. Of particular interestwill be the female and underrepresented minority students who are reached through thisprogram.

Anderson-Rowland, M. R., & Rodriguez, A. A., & Grierson, A. (2011, June), Making a Difference: How to Recruit More Community College Women and Underrepresented Minority Students into Engineering and Computer Science Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18313

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