Asee peer logo

Meeting the Need for Diversity in STEM Fields

Download Paper |


2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Two-year College Potpourri

Tagged Division

Two Year College Division

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


James Burton Dorsey Washington MESA

visit author page

James Dorsey is the executive director of Washington State MESA, a program that prepares and encourages underrepresented groups (K16) to pursue science, engineering and technology careers. Dorsey's professional background includes 25 years with both Washington and California MESA, advancing K-20 STEM education equity on statewide and national levels.

Before his tenure with Washington MESA, Dorsey was national director of program development for California MESA, where he fostered new and enhanced partnerships with Hewlett Packard, AT&T, Google, Amazon, and other companies, and helped triple the number of MESA's community college transfer centers in California as well as replicated the community college model nationally.

visit author page


Elizabeth Apple Meza University of Washington

visit author page

Elizabeth Meza, PhD is a Research Scientist and a Special Assistant - Postsecondary Success in the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity at the University of Washington. She specializes in transitions to and out of community colleges, equity for underrepresented students, and mixed methods research.

visit author page


Phyllis G. Harvey-Buschel Washington MESA

visit author page

Phyllis works with the University of Washington-Mathematics Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) as director for K-12 program. Her work includes the development and design of STEM project-based learning experiences for students and teachers with emphasis on developing modules for engineering design and computer science; She is focused on teacher professional development through technology enhanced and blended learning for teachers and students across urban and rural environments. Her work also involves the execution of MESA statewide signature event that showcase students work at the annual Washington MESA K-12 Engineering Design and Computer Science Challenges.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Despite the large and growing gap in diversity in STEM higher education and employment few studies have described and evaluated individual programs aimed to address the equity gap in STEM higher education, particularly programs aimed specifically at supporting diverse community college students who are pursuing STEM fields. This mixed methods study investigates one such program, The MESA (Math Engineering Science Achievement) Community College Program (MCCP) in six colleges in two states, examining student experiences and outcomes via focus groups, a survey, and statistical data analysis. The study finds that there is at least suggestive evidence that MCCP may produce impressive results in a field of great policy interest. When compared against students who also showed transfer intent in a STEM field MESA students accumulated significantly more college level credits, more STEM credits, and graduated with a transfer degree at significantly higher rates. Students in focus groups attributed program success to the positive and affirming community, academic support, career and professional development activities with diverse mentors, and targeted academic advising they received through MESA, activities that have also been found to be important in previous studies.

Dorsey, J. B., & Apple Meza, E., & Harvey-Buschel, P. G. (2017, June), Meeting the Need for Diversity in STEM Fields Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio.

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: © 2017 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