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Minority-serving Institution Partnerships Strengthen Underrepresented Minority Recruitment for a Research Experience for Undergraduates Program (Experience)

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Conference

2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 6

Page Count

10

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/41069

Download Count

81

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Paper Authors

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Joe Muskin University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

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Joe Muskin is the Education Coordinator for the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois. He has experience in both industry and pre-college education before becoming involved in educational outreach at the University. In his current role, Joe received many awards including NSTA's Distinguished Informal Science Educator Award for his outstanding work bringing motivational educational experiences to students across the country.

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Dee Dixon

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Henry Griffith San Antonio College

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Henry Griffith is currently an Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator of Engineering at San Antonio College. He is also a part-time faculty member at the University of Texas at San Antonio. His research interests are in the broad area of sensor analytics for pervasive healthcare applications. He is also active in developing strategies to improve student success within engineering education, and has received support from Google and NVIDIA for his recent efforts. He is a Senior Member of IEEE.

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Andrew Alleyne University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

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Prof Alleyne received his B.S. from Princeton University in 1989 and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in 1992 and 1994, respectively, from The University of California at Berkeley. He joined the University of Minnesota in 2022 as the Dean of the College of Science and Engineering where he oversees 12 departments and over 8,000 students. Prior to Minnesota he was at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign where he was the inaugural Director for the NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) on Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems which is a multi-million dollar center enabling electrified mobility.

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Alfred Alaniz San Antonio College

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Physics and astronomy educator. Advisor for undergraduate research. Faculty advisor for student chapters of national organizations: SACNAS, MAES, SPS, SAC Motorsport.

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Jessica Perez University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

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Jessica G Perez is the Associate Director of Education and Inclusivity for the Engineering Research Center for Power Optimization of Electro-thermal Systems (POETS). Dr. Perez earned a B.S. in Biological Engineering from MIT and a Ph.D. in Chemical and Biological Engineering from Northwestern University. Her professional interests include engineering education, inclusive teaching, and DEI best practices in higher ed.

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Abstract

Many Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs rely on Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) advertising their programs to recruit highly diverse applicants. Often, the partnership ends there. However, there are several opportunities that may be missed with this limited relationship. Here we outline how the POETS REU program leveraged several best practices to build mutually beneficial institutional relationships with MSIs that are student-focused. From 2018-2020 the POETS REU Site established partnerships with 3 Hispanic-serving institutions (HSI) in California and Texas: San Antonio College (SAC), Cañada College, and University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). This resulted in the REU Site program recruiting 35 highly diverse undergraduate students, 100% of whom were from underrepresented groups, to engage in a 10-week summer program focused on interdisciplinary research in electrical, mechanical, and material engineering. Of this cohort, 44% were community college students, and 47% had parents who had not received a college degree. An external evaluation team found that over the course of the summer, the POETS REU students strengthened their engineering skillset, increased their confidence to pursue a career in STEM, and engaged in a very positive summer experience. Of the REU alumni who have graduated, over 95% have pursued STEM careers, with ~50% in STEM-relevant industry positions and ~45% in graduate school pursuing PhD and MS degrees in STEM. The MSI partnerships were extended beyond recruitment through several conversations with MSI faculty and staff about important factors for their students’ success, including community support, near-peer mentors, clear expectations, and opportunities to showcase their knowledge through a project. Over the years, the REU program has been able to incorporate MSI faculty suggestions into unique program aspects as well as complementary initiatives. One programmatic example includes changes to the on-site REU recruitment information sessions. Specifically, to address MSI staff’s concern around students’ being intimidated of applying to the REU program, several REU alumni from each MSI shared their experiences at the information sessions as well as advocated for specific candidates. This practice increased the number of applications from our MSI partners. One new initiative example that stemmed from this partnership includes the creation of a team-based REU project by SAC and University of Arkansas’ faculty. The positive outcomes from this team-based project caught the attention of the University of Arkansas’ College of Engineering department, which eventually led to a university transfer agreement between the community college and the four-year, out-of-state university. Initial data indicates specific program elements (i.e., team-based projects, alumni recruitment strategies, and cohort placement), driven by MSI suggestions, helped the REU students’ succeed within the REU program and beyond. These practices helped build trust among the students, which we found to be a very important aspect of working with MSIs and helped build a community of REU scholars within each recruitment region. In this paper, we detail how these partnerships were established as well as share program implementation details and evaluation results. Details of each institutions’ experience within this partnership will be shared as well as a discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of these approaches. Assessment methods include both qualitative and quantitative surveys, interviews, observations, and artifact analysis.

Muskin, J., & Dixon, D., & Griffith, H., & Alleyne, A., & Alaniz, A., & Perez, J. (2022, August), Minority-serving Institution Partnerships Strengthen Underrepresented Minority Recruitment for a Research Experience for Undergraduates Program (Experience) Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. https://peer.asee.org/41069

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