June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
Minorities in Engineering
11.1156.1 - 11.1156.10
Student Diversity at the Mercer University School of Engineering
Many colleges and universities have developed strategies to increase diversity in their engineering programs. Such strategies include providing support services (mentoring, academic and professional development workshops, tutoring, etc.), summer programs, and focused recruitment of target student populations. Although results of these efforts, in general, indicate that some progress has been made over the years regarding the recruitment, retention, and graduation of under-represented minorities and women in engineering, significant discrepancies still exist and much work remains.
Over the past ten years at Mercer, African-Americans have comprised 17.1% of students enrolled in engineering, while women have comprised 31.1%, on average. In addition, African-Americans and women represent a sizeable fraction of each graduating class (14.8% and 32.0%, respectively). These numbers are higher than those observed in many other engineering schools across the country. Five-year graduation rates for African- Americans (as well as other under-represented minorities) and women at Mercer, however, are more in line with observations at other engineering schools.
The purpose of this paper is to investigate student-body diversity, retention, and graduation rates at the Mercer University School of Engineering in light of national trends. While a cursory look at the data may indicate a significant measure of success, there are always opportunities for improvement, some of which will be discussed.
Mercer University, founded in 1833, is a small, private, comprehensive institution of higher learning located in Macon, GA. The school of engineering (MUSE) was begun in 1985 and earned accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) in 1990 for a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) degree with specialties offered in electrical, industrial, and mechanical engineering. MUSE hit its stride in the early 1990s, and now also offers specialties in biomedical engineering, computer engineering, environmental engineering, industrial management, and technical communication. Since that time, MUSE has had a good track record regarding attracting, retaining, and graduating minorities and women, particularly in view of national trends.
Much has been written concerning the need for attracting qualified minorities and women to engineering disciplines1-4. Still, national enrollment figures indicate that most colleges and universities struggle to meet this need, and minority and female students remain under-represented. At Mercer, however, past performance indicates a level of success in this area that exceeds the national averages by roughly 50% for both African- Americans and women.
Butler, A., & Hicks, P. (2006, June), Student Diversity At The Mercer University School Of Engineering: Retention And Graduation Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--968
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