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Mentoring Minority Students in Biomedical Engineering: An Engaged Approach

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Mentoring Minority Students

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.8.1 - 23.8.13



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Paper Authors

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Christine S Grant North Carolina State University


Tuere Bowles NC State University

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Dr. Tuere A. Bowles is an Associate Professor in the department of Leadership, Policy, Adult and Higher Education. Professor Bowles’ research specializes in: adult learning and development, equity issues in education (race, ethnicity, gender and social class), assessment, workforce development and women's learning and development. She received her B.A. in English at Spelman College, an M.Div. in the ITC/Morehouse School of Religion and a Ph.D. in Adult Education at the University of Georgia.

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Olgha Bassam Qaqish North Carolina State University

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Mrs. Davis earned her BS degree in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University and MS degree in Biomedical Engineering from North Carolina State University (NCSU) and UNC Chapel Hill. Currently, Mrs. Davis is the education coordinator for the BioMed-Connect Mentoring Incubator at NCSU College of Engineering. Mrs. Davis main responsibilities include conducting research and writing grant proposals and final reports, developing the educational curriculum for the mentoring program, and facilitating weekly laboratory group meetings, and organizing professional development seminars for the participants. Mrs. Davis also is a doctoral students at the Adult Education program at NCSU.

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Rex E Jeffries North Carolina State University

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Barbara Smith North Carolina State University

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Mentoring Minority Students in Biomedical Engineering: A Cross-disciplinary ApproachThere is a compelling need for a program that develops self-efficacy in UnderrepresentedMinority (URM) students in STEM related fields. To answer this need, professor and lifelongmentor developed the national mentored-leadership initiative program to empower URMstudents at the high school and undergraduate levels in their successful pursuit of engineeringcareers. This objective is accomplished by actively partnering students with senior URM mentors(i.e. post-doctoral associates and faculty members) in research and professional development,collaborating to advance minority students in engineering. Students completing the programdemonstrate a firm understanding of the translational aspects of their research, enabling them tomake informed career choices to maximize their expertise and biomedical interests. Ultimately,this outcome is achieved through engaged participation in: a “mentoring incubator” andmentoring course led by URM full professor and lifelong mentor; interactive seminars androundtable discussions with mentee “success story” resource group; sessions with biomedicalgroup of successful URM engineering faculty; and targeted research experiences at a largeresearch university, leveraging partnerships with agency-sponsored programs.Program established: The summer 2011 program provided opportunities for URM high schooland undergraduate students to participate in the mentoring experience outlined above. Theresearch component engaged the students in optimizing growth conditions for human cancercells; and interaction with a group of faculty in musculoskeletal research that performs researchat all levels in this medical issue, from cellular to patient level. The Academic Year 2011-2012program provided URM freshman engineering students with roles as lab assistants, training andassisting in cell culture and encapsulation. In addition to being mentored by program developerand full professor, students were mentored by postdoctoral lab manager in his study of oxygenconsumption using the lab’s bioreactor and in the calibration of pH meters and scales. Thestudents also trained in the organization of all aspects of the lab and assisted in the setup of anew lab.Outcomes: Summer 2011 –The high school and undergraduate participants presented their cellculture research results at the university summer undergraduate poster presentation. One highschool student is currently majoring in biomedical engineering at a 4-year southeasterninstitution. Another student’s cell culture research experience led to a summer 2012 researchopportunity at a large research university. A 2012 Fall freshman engineering student gainedvaluable laboratory experience with breast cancer cells that earned her a summer 2012 REUinternship at an east coast research institution.Background catalyst for the program: Over the last several decades, minorities have beenunderrepresented in the field of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).Despite the new policies effort to increase the number of underrepresented minorities (URM)students entering college in STEM fields, recent reports from the National Science Foundationindicator report (2008) shows that freshman students start their college careers in STEM but areless likely to complete a degree in STEM versus other field majors. What is more troubling is thefact that URM students who start STEM degrees as freshmen are the least likely to remain in theSTEM field.

Grant, C. S., & Bowles, T., & Qaqish, O. B., & Jeffries, R. E., & Smith, B. (2013, June), Mentoring Minority Students in Biomedical Engineering: An Engaged Approach Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19017

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