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Small Mentoring Efforts that Make a Big Difference for Retention

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Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Division Technical Session 7

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

12

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/33270

Download Count

3

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Paper Authors

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Robert J. Rabb P.E. The Citadel

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Robert Rabb is an associate professor and the Mechanical Engineering Program Director at The Citadel. He previously taught mechanical engineering at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the United States Military Academy and his M.S.E. and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. His research and teaching interests are in mechatronics, regenerative power, and multidisciplinary engineering.

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Ronald W. Welch P.E. The Citadel

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Ron Welch (P.E.) received his B.S. degree in Engineering Mechanics from the United States Military Academy in 1982. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in 1990 and 1999, respectively. He became the Dean of Engineering at The Citadel on 1 July 2011. Prior to his current position, he was the Department Head of Civil Engineering at The University of Texas at Tyler from Jan 2007 to June 2011 as well as served in the Corps of Engineers for over 24 years including eleven years on the faculty at the United States Military Academy.

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William J. Davis P.E. The Citadel Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-3812-8654

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William J. Davis is Dept. Head & D. Graham Copeland Professor of Civil Engineering and Director of Construction Engineering at The Citadel in Charleston, SC. His academic experience includes: transportation infrastructure planning and design, infrastructure resilience, traffic operations, highway safety, and geographic information systems. His research interests include: constructing spatial databases for better management of transportation infrastructure, improving transportation design, operation, safety and construction, understanding long-term effects of urban development patterns, and advancing active living within the built environment for improved public health. He teaches courses in interchange design, transportation engineering, highway design. engineering management, geographic information systems, and land surveying. He has served in numerous leadership positions in ITE, ASCE and TRB.

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Deirdre D. Ragan The Citadel

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Dr. Deirdre Ragan is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Additionally, she is Director of The Citadel Honors Program. She holds a B.S. (Rice University), M.S. and Ph.D. (University of California Santa Barbara) in Materials. Deirdre previously conducted research at a national lab, new product development research in industry, and academic research in Sweden through a Fulbright Fellowship. She holds five patents for ideas conceived and implemented while working in industry. Her interests include mentoring students, high impact teaching methods, and materials research. She teaches upper-level undergraduate and graduate Materials courses in the Mechanical Engineering department as well as undergraduate multidisciplinary courses for the Honors Program.

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Jason Geathers The Citadel

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Dr. Jason Geathers is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at The Citadel. He earned his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, where he studied microstructural and environmental effects on the very high cycle fatigue behavior of a titanium alloy for use in aircraft engines. He also received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan and a B.S. degree in Applied Physics from Morehouse College. His research interests include multi-scale mechanics of materials, deformation mechanisms, fatigue and fracture of structural materials, and small-scale materials characterization using advanced imaging techniques.

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Abstract

Although engineering enrollments have increased significantly in the past five years, retention of engineering students is difficult for a variety of reasons to include rigor of courses, and many first and second year courses are outside of the engineering departments. Studies show that success in increasing retention must focus on not only support services for academic achievement, but also on optimizing community building and collaborations among the students and faculty. Additionally, several studies have shown that success and retention of students participating in mentor programs were higher than students who did not participate. This paper will discuss a variety of evolving mentoring activities that have been employed over the last several years in the School of Engineering. At [Institution], retention in engineering programs from freshman to sophomore year over the past five years has increased from 62% to 81%. Some mentoring activities are focused at underrepresented populations, women and minorities, while others are implemented for the entire engineering student population. Mentoring efforts included: use of a single person to advise a select demographic of undergraduates, peer mentors, faculty advisors, faculty mentors, and engineering industry mentors. The School has taken a full, four-year approach to its mentoring efforts, transitioning the role of the first year student from mentee to mentor in some cases through volunteering to maintain contact with industry mentors in subsequent years. The overall mentoring program is multilayered: 1) helping new students transition to higher education and identify with their particular program; 2) helping students struggling in upper level courses and in leadership positions or conducting undergraduate research; and 3) helping students began their transition to the engineering profession.

This paper presents how one university developed and uses mentoring to provide a number of different engagement activities. These efforts focus on creating a culture of open communications with engineering students and increase engagement of engineering students with faculty, engineering professionals, and peers to develop resiliency and persistence towards an engineering degree. Included is the rationale for each activity, together with a brief summary of how it was implemented. Statistical and anecdotal survey data as evidence to the success or effectiveness of these efforts is presented and discussed, with particular attention paid to student retention. Analysis of examples of mentoring activities will provide a number of best practices.

Rabb, R. J., & Welch, R. W., & Davis, W. J., & Ragan, D. D., & Geathers, J. (2019, June), Small Mentoring Efforts that Make a Big Difference for Retention Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/33270

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: © 2019 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