Asee peer logo

Minority-focused Engagement Through Research and Innovative Teaching (MERIT)

Download Paper |


2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Curricular and Non-curricular Models for Diverse Learners in Engineering

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1156.1 - 26.1156.6



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Kai Jin Texas A&M University, Kingsville

visit author page

Dr. Kai Jin is a Professor of Industrial Engineering and Co-PI of the MERIT project. Her research interests include Sustainable Energy, Green Manufacturing, Quality Control, and Multi Objective Decision Making and Optimization as well as Engineering Education. She has served as PI and Co-PI in several DoEd, DHS, NRC, and industry sponsored projects.

visit author page


Hua Li Texas A&M University, Kingsville Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Dr. Hua Li, an Assistant Professor in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, is interested in sustainable manufacturing, renewable energy, sustainability assessment, and engineering education. Dr. Li has served as PI and Co-PI in different projects funded by NSF, DOEd, DHS, and HP, with a total amount of more than 2.5 million dollars.

visit author page


Mohamed Abdelrahman Texas A&M University, Kingsville

visit author page

Dr. Abdelrahman is currently the Associate Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies and a Professor of Electrical Engineering at Texas A&M University Kingsville. Dr. Abdelrahman has a diverse educational and research background. His research expertise is in the design of intelligent measurement systems, sensor fusion and control systems. He has been active in research with over 80 papers published in refereed journals and conferences. He has been the principal investigator on several major research projects on industrial applications of sensing and Control with focus on Energy Efficiency. He is a senior member of IEEE, ISA, and a member of ASEE.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Minority-focused Engagement through Research and Innovative Teaching (MERIT)MERIT is a Department of Education funded project to engage, mentor and retain minorityengineering students in the first two years. Retention of first two-year students in engineering iscomplicated since many bottleneck courses in this early period are taught outside of engineering.MERIT takes a collaborative approach incorporating faculty from the Colleges of Arts &Sciences and Engineering to address the recognized needs including improving retention rates,improving graduation rates, and increasing recruitment of minority students.MERIT is comprised of two primary programs. First, is an Engaging Mentoring andTutoring program (EMT), which starts by developing hands-on learning modules to be used insupplemental mentoring and tutoring for bottleneck courses in the academic year. The secondis to engage engineering students in the first two years and community college students in aSummer Research Program (SRP). The SRP also prepares students for difficult concepts inthe bottleneck courses in engineering education through project-based learning and mentoringsupport. The funded project is close to the end of the first year cycle. The project design,operating challenges and lessons learned, as well as some data collected in the first year will bepresented in this paper.In EMT, a selected group of faculty members work with student mentors to develop engaginglearning modules that will be used to address difficult concepts in bottleneck courses in the firsttwo years (e.g. Calculus, Physics and Chemistry). Student mentors (junior and senior engineeringstudents) receive continuous training and support from the STEM faculty mentors on how toeffectively mentor and tutor students. The student mentors will provide peer mentoring andtutoring to first two-year college students for bottleneck STEM courses. The EMT program aimsto provide support and guidance to minority students, especially minority women and high- needstudents to persist, succeed and progress toward graduation.A three-week summer research program is offered to TAMU-K students in their freshman orsophomore years who have actively participated in the EMT program and to community collegestudents in South Texas. The SRP aims to provide academic preparation to first two-year collegestudents with focus on difficult principles and concepts in first two-year college STEM coursesidentified in each department through project-based learning. Twenty student participants in SRPare selected through a selection process as SRP trainees. There are five teams each year witheach team comprised of four students. Each of the five teams are supervised by a STEM facultymember and mentored by a SRP Student Mentor who is selected from student mentors in theEMT academic year program. The SRP trainees complete a research project related to first two-year college bottleneck courses within three weeks. Each team is required to prepare a poster,presentation, and report. Exposing undergraduate students to research projects early in theiracademic career has been demonstrated, with strong evidence of success, to improve student-persistence. The survey data from the first year SRP also supports this approach.

Jin, K., & Li, H., & Abdelrahman, M. (2015, June), Minority-focused Engagement Through Research and Innovative Teaching (MERIT) Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24493

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: © 2015 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