June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Minorities in Engineering
13.1051.1 - 13.1051.13
REU Sites: Much More than a Research Experience for Undergraduates
Undergraduate research is one of the most important recommended vehicles to address current educational concerns in Science and Engineering, such as high dropout rates, low graduation rates, and low enrollment in graduate programs. In this paper we describe our experience running an NSF-sponsored Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site in Computer Science and Engineering (CS&E), an area where these problems have been recently exacerbated and where under-represented minority student groups with important growth rates have had a very low participation. The most important aspects that need to be included in these programs to address these concerns and some other initiatives that can bring additional benefits at low cost are also described. For each of these aspects, successful strategies or best practices are included. Finally, the effectiveness of the program is demonstrated with the results of the program evaluation.
Over the last several years, the United States has witnessed alarming statistics and trends in graduate and undergraduate enrollment, graduation rates, and participation of minority groups in Science and Engineering (S&E) fields, and in Computer Science in particular. For example, according to the National Science Foundation’s Science and Engineering indicators 2006, underrepresented minorities did not enroll in or completed college at the same rate as whites. In 2003, the percentage of African Americans and Hispanics who completed ba3lor’s or higher degrees were 18% and 10%, respectively, compared with 34% of whites1. The graduation rate for African Americans and Hispanics in Engineering has remained at 11% over the last ten years2. Underrepresented minority students are also less likely than other groups to be enrolled in research institutions and instead, a high percentage of them (47%) enrolled in 2-yr institutions. Regarding freshmen intentions to major in S&E1, shows that in 2004, although 9% of the students planned to major in engineering only 2%-5% had plans to major in Computer Science. At the graduate level, enrollment in S&E has declined since 2003 mainly as a consequence of the decline observed in foreign students, which declined 12% in Engineering and 23% in Computer Science.
Meanwhile, the country has experienced unequal population growth rates of certain minority groups compared to the rest of the U.S. population. In recent reports3,4, Hispanics are shown to be the fastest growing population in the United States and the largest minority group in the country since 2005. Even though the reports indicate that Hispanics will account for one quarter of the U.S.’s population by 20503, they also indicate that Hispanics only account for 6, 4 and 3 percent of the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, respectively. Furthermore, they are the least educated major ethnic group, and the group with the lowest graduate school enrollment. The conclusion is that these trends and numbers combined represent serious problems for the United States. In order to maintain the competitiveness and leadership in technology, the U.S.
Labrador, M., & Guerrero, C., & Perez, R. (2008, June), Reu Sites: Much More Than A Research Experience For Undergraduates Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3254
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