June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Minorities in Engineering
12.1298.1 - 12.1298.11
START: A Formal Mentoring Program for Minority Engineering Freshmen Abstract
Our College of Engineering attracts some of the most talented students from across the United States. Each year, an entering freshman class of approximately 1250 new engineering students includes approximately 18% female and 20% minority students. Approximately 13% of our undergraduate student population is an African-American, Native-American, or Hispanic- American. Annually, a new freshman class of engineering students includes about 140 under- represented minority students.
Nationally, undergraduate engineering programs at traditionally white institutions which are successful at sustained recruitment, enrollment and graduation of under-represented students are constantly seeking innovative strategies to help meet these objectives. One such program administered by our Office of Minority Engineering Programs is Student Advancement and Retention Teams, or START. START is an early intervention and peer-mentoring program whose purpose is to help create a receptive, familial environment that helps ease the transition of new under-represented freshmen into our College of Engineering.
In 2003, we received a small grant from a local foundation that allowed us to run a two-year pilot that expanded START through the mentees’ sophomore year. This paper reports on the procedures, challenges and successes associated with START. After describing START mentors selection and mentees assignment procedures, the paper reports on activities and outcomes associated with the traditional first-year only program. We will then describe our motivation for extending START through the sophomore year, and offer details on unexpected challenges associated with this expansion. The paper concludes with lessons learned from this two-year expansion pilot, and with explanations of why we have returned START to its original mode of assigning mentors to entering under-represented student freshmen only.
Introduction to the Diversity Challenge
As a land grant university as designated by the United States federal government, our university has a mandate to provide practical education to the citizens of this state, while maintaining nationally ranked and recognized research programs. Through its responsibility as a land grant university our College of Engineering seeks to recruit the highest achievers while maintaining a diverse and inclusive campus community. Our enrollment rates of under-represented students (African-Americans, Hispanic, Native-Americans), have shown steady progress over the past twenty years. Our Minority Engineering Programs Office was established in 1982 to address the needs of a growing number of students attending the university, with particular emphasis on under-represented engineering student success. As success was proved with our engineering model, it was replicated across campus in other schools and colleges. Research has shown that first year student success is highly dependent on support services and programs, particularly for minority students1, 2.
On our campus, student diversity is enhanced by increasing the numbers of African-American, Native-American and Hispanic students (together referred to as minority or under-represented
Mitchell, T., & Daniel, A. (2007, June), Start: A Formal Mentoring Program For Minority Engineering Freshmen Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/2951
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