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Mentoring Minority Engineering Students: A Program At Florida International University

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.291.1 - 2.291.10



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Paper Authors

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Richard Campbell

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Irma Becerra-Fernandez

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Gustavo Roig

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Gordon Hopkins

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1692

Mentoring Minority Engineering Students: A Program at Florida International University

Irma Becerra-Fernandez, Richard Campbell, Gustavo Roig, Gordon Hopkins Florida International University

Abstract This paper describes PRISM (Program of Industry Supported Mentorships), the Florida International University mentor program. The purpose of this program was to develop and test a university-industry partnership in the College of Engineering. The participating mentors represented some of the major corporations and small firms in the South Florida area. Unlike many other mentor programs, PRISM included fifteen mentees who had grade point averages below 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. All of these mentees were minority students, including both persons of Hispanic and African descent, with a good gender representation (5 students or 33% were females). Several activities were held over a nine month period which included meetings with the mentors, a “get-to- know-you” breakfast, and a seminar where the mentors spoke about their careers and life experiences. Anecdotal responses from students, mentors, and professors have shown that the participants all found the program to be very valuable. Due to their participation in this program, the mentees have already seen a correlation between their academic work and the real-life working world.

Introduction Recent analyses have uncovered that the future will require the participation of greater numbers of females and minorities in the increasingly technological work [4]. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that individuals of African, Indian, and Hispanic descent account for over 30% of the U.S. population, yet they are woefully underrepresented in the technological fields. The Bureau estimates that by the year 2050, minorities will comprise half (50%) of the U.S. population. Minorities, therefore, will be expected to comprise half of the labor force in the technological fields, or a resulting shortage of scientists and engineers may result [8]. Therefore, as educators, we need to discover new and innovative techniques to motivate this segment of the population to study math, science and engineering, and to provide them with appropriate role models. Even today "precious few women, worldwide, are choosing careers in engineering. In the United States, women make up 51 percent of the professional workforce. However, only a paltry 8.5 percent of all engineers are women" [6] .

One of the most popular ways to increase women and minority retention, and at the same time ensure academic success, is through mentoring [9]. Though there are varied operational definitions of mentoring, its origins are from the ancient Greek language. The Greeks described mentorship as a relationship in which an older and wiser person would counsel and direct the experiences of a younger, developing person. A review of the research literature tends to show that mentoring programs, however vague, do have a positive impact upon the academic life of the students or

Campbell, R., & Becerra-Fernandez, I., & Roig, G., & Hopkins, G. (1997, June), Mentoring Minority Engineering Students: A Program At Florida International University Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6686

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