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Reflections on Experiences of a Successful STEM Scholarship Program for Underrepresented Groups

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Cultivating Engineering Scholarship and Research Mindsets Among URM Students

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1325.1 - 26.1325.14



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Paper Authors


Sedig Salem Agili Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg

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Sedig S. Agili received his BS, MS, and Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Marquette University in 1986, 1989, and 1996, respectively. Currently he is a Professor of Electrical Engineering teaching and conducting research in signal integrity of high-speed electrical interconnects, electronic communications, and fiber optic communications. He has authored numerous research articles which have been published in reputable peer refereed journals and conference proceedings. He is the Co-director for The Center of Excellence in Signal Integrity at Penn State Harrisburg. He was honored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) with Best paper award at the IEEE International Conference on Consumer Electronics 2007, Las Vegas, Nevada, for the paper " Transmitter Pre-emphasis and Adaptive Receiver Equalization for Duobinary Signaling in Backplane Channels.'' He was also honored by DesignCon for 2013 Best Paper Award Finalist, for the paper “A Rapid Prototyping of FPGA - Based Duobinary Transmitter/Receiver for High Speed Electrical Backplane Transmission,” Santa Clara, CA, January 2013. He received the 2010 Technical Achievement Award from the Central Pennsylvania Engineers Week Council. He is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and a full member of Sigma Xi.

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Aldo Morales Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg

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Dr. Aldo Morales was born in Tacna, Peru. Dr. Morales earned his B.S. in Electronic Engineering, with distinction, from Northern University (now University of Tarapaca), Arica, Chile. He has an M.Sc. Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from University of Buffalo, The State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY. Currently, he is a professor of electrical Engineering at Penn State Harrisburg. Dr. Morales was the PI for a 3-year Ben Franklin Technology Partners Grant that established the “Center of Excellence in Signal Integrity” at Penn State Harrisburg. He was a co-author for the Best Poster Paper Award at the IEEE International Conference on Consumer Electronics 2007, Las Vegas, Nevada, for the paper "Transmitter Pre-emphasis and Adaptive Receiver Equalization for Duobinary Signaling in Backplane Channels''. In addition, of Best Paper Award at the IEEE Asia Pacific Conference on Circuits and Systems 96, Seoul, Korea, for the paper "Basis Matrix Representation of Morphological Filters with N-Dimensional Structuring Elements''.

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Linda M. Null Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg

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Linda Null received an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Iowa State University, an M.S. in Computer Science Education and an M.S. in Mathematics Education from Northwest Missouri State University, and a B.S. in Mathematics and English from Northwest Missouri State University. She is currently the Computer Science graduate program coordinator and associate program chair at Penn State Harrisburg, where she has been a member of the faculty since 1995. Her areas of interest include computer organization and architecture, operating systems, computer science education, and computer security.

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Janice E. Smith Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg

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Dr. Janice E. Smith (B.S. Chemistry; M.B.A.; D. Ed. Adult Education) is Director of the Russell E. Horn Sr. Learning Center at Penn State Harrisburg.

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Sofia M. Vidalis Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg

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Sofia Vidalis is an associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering/Structural Design and Construction Engineering Technology at Penn State Harrisburg. She received her Ph.D., Masters, and Bachelors in Civil Engineering from the University of Florida. She has worked at Florida Design Consultants as a Transportation Engineer. She is an active national and local member of American Society of Civil Engineers and American Society of Engineering Education.

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Reflections on Experiences of a Successful STEM Scholarship Program for Underrepresented GroupsThe Executive Summary of “Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and EmployingAmerica for A Brighter Economic Future,” pointed out that “scientific and technologicalbuilding blocks critical to our economic leadership are eroding at a time when many othernations are gathering strength”. In order to prevent this decline, the Executive Summary offeredfour recommendations “that focus on the human, financial, and knowledge capital necessary forUS prosperity. The four recommendations focus on actions in K–12 education (10,000 Teachers,10 Million Minds), research (Sowing the Seeds), higher education (Best and Brightest), andeconomic policy (Incentives for Innovation).” In addition, the 2010 report of the President’sCouncil of Advisors on Science and Technology stated that “there is a large interest andachievement gap among some groups in STEM, and African Americans, Hispanics, NativeAmericans, and women are seriously underrepresented in many STEM fields.” Furthercomplicating this issue is the low level of interest of American students in the science, incomparison with other countries. There are also several concerns with the cost of highereducation which is a detriment to students wishing to acquire a STEM-related education.Recognizing these problems, some STEM faculty members at this University1 applied and wereawarded an NSF grant in order to ameliorate the effects of the problems discussed. This NSFgrant is tailored to increase and retain under-represented, female, first-generation collegestudents, and low-income STEM students due to demonstrated national and regional needs toaugment these populations in higher education STEM programs. In order to increase theawareness of STEM fields, a new initiative, the creation of STEM Clubs at High School andMiddle Schools, is being pursued. To attract the targeted students, scholarships were created andnew services and processes are being implemented, such as improved early progress report,mentoring by role model faculty members and working professionals in STEM fields and peermentoring through the new STEM scholarship club. Our activities are being accomplishedthrough a synergetic collaboration of expert staff from the Office of Multicultural Recruitment,Student Services, the Outreach Office, this University1, the Commission for Women at thisUniversity1 and seasoned role model faculty members. The project team has extensiveexperience working with female and minority undergraduate students. Rigorous evaluations werebuilt in the management plan to assess targeted enrollment goals, retention rates, and the impactof mentor/mentee activities, taking into account the unique characteristics of the targeted groups.This proposal was further strengthened by leveraging the resources of the Office of Developmentat this University1 to sustain this effort over time. This paper deals with reflections in how tosuccessfully implement a university STEM scholarship program to attain the simultaneous goalsof increasing STEM enrollment and increase diversity in the STEM fields. In particular, thenecessity of strong and broad-based (peers, faculty, industrial) mentoring. Initial results areencouraging with regards to STEM scholarship student retention.1 This University name will be given in the full paper.

Agili, S. S., & Morales, A., & Null, L. M., & Smith, J. E., & Vidalis, S. M. (2015, June), Reflections on Experiences of a Successful STEM Scholarship Program for Underrepresented Groups Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24662

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