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Motivating Minority High School Students For Futures In Engineering Through Dream (Designing With Rice Engineers – Achievement Through Mentorship)

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Attracting Young MINDS in Engineering - Part I

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.887.1 - 15.887.31



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Paper Authors

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Juan Castilleja The Boeing Company

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Rachel Jackson Rice University

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Natalia Salies Rice University

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Brent Houchens Rice University

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

Motivating Minority High School Students for Futures in Engineering through DREAM (Designing with Rice Engineers – Achievement through Mentorship)


DREAM (Designing with Rice Engineers – Achievement through Mentorship) was created to motivate underrepresented high school students to pursue higher education and careers in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. Rice University undergraduate and graduate engineering students (mentors) volunteer weekly with underrepresented high school students (mentees) at three Houston public schools to solve a specified engineering design problem. The design project mechanism allows mentor/mentee relationships to form naturally, and thus opens up communication regarding college, financial aid, and futures in engineering. Perception and Environment Surveys (P.E.S.) are administered to the mentees at the beginning and end of the DREAM program, each semester, in order to gauge mentee knowledge of college admissions, financial aid, careers, and long-term earning potentials in STEM fields. Analysis of mentee responses to the P.E.S. provided very promising evidence of the effectiveness of the DREAM program. Questions 10 and 12 on the P.E.S. ask, “How much math do you plan to take in high school,” and “How much physics do you plan to take in high school,” respectively. In spring 2009, the number of mentees planning on taking a greater number of years of math and physics increased from the initial survey to the final survey, while the number planning on taking the minimum number of years of math and physics dropped. This directly shows that DREAM has been effective in stressing the importance of taking math and science courses for success in higher education, specifically in the STEM fields. It also shows that DREAM has been successful in generating mentee interest in math, science, and engineering. In fall 2009, DREAM instituted a College Prep group for seniors who participated each semester at AHS. In the survey, all eight AHS seniors reported they wanted to attend college and seven out of eight indicated interest in engineering majors. Recently, it was found out that all eight seniors have been accepted into college. This confirms the DREAM program’s effectiveness in helping underrepresented high school students get accepted into college and pursue a higher degree.


The DREAM (Designing with Rice Engineers - Achievement through Mentorship) program was founded in 2007 to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers to Houston students to address the growing dropout trends and decreasing numbers of minority students in higher education. The program started its outreach efforts at Austin High School in the Houston Independent School District (HISD), Texas. Since, DREAM has grown by two more campuses: Chavez High School (CHS) of HISD and the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) High School. Each campus has provided new opportunities and challenges in addressing the inadequate understanding of STEM career paths observed in underrepresented high school students. The program model since its inception utilizes Rice University engineering students in STEM fields as mentors to high school students by providing a design project to work on for 5-7 weeks

Castilleja, J., & Jackson, R., & Salies, N., & Houchens, B. (2010, June), Motivating Minority High School Students For Futures In Engineering Through Dream (Designing With Rice Engineers – Achievement Through Mentorship) Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16339

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