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Student Perceptions of a Summer Research Internship Program for Underrepresented Community College Engineering Students

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Two-year College Potpourri

Tagged Division

Two-Year College

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Paper Authors


Nicholas Langhoff Skyline College

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Nicholas Langhoff is an associate professor of engineering and computer science at Skyline College in San Bruno, California. He received his M.S. degree from San Francisco State University in embedded electrical engineering and computer systems. His educational research interests include technology-enhanced instruction, online education, metacognitive teaching and learning strategies, reading apprenticeship in STEM, and the development of novel instructional equipment and curricula for enhancing academic success in science and engineering.

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Amelito G. Enriquez Cañada College Orcid 16x16

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Amelito Enriquez is a professor of Engineering and Mathematics at Cañada College in Redwood City, CA. He received a BS in Geodetic Engineering from the University of the Philippines, his MS in Geodetic Science from the Ohio State University, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Irvine. His research interests include technology-enhanced instruction and increasing the representation of female, minority and other underrepresented groups in mathematics, science and engineering.

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Eva Schiorring Cañada College

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Eva Schiorring has almost two decades of experience in research and evaluation and special knowledge about STEM education in community colleges and four-year institutions. Ms. Schiorring presently serves as the external evaluator for three NSF-funded projects that range in scope and focus from leadership development to service learning and experimentation with alternative delivery, including online lab courses. Ms. Schiorring is also evaluating a project that is part of the California State University system’s new initiative to increase first year persistence in STEM. In 2014, Ms. Schiorring was one of the first participants in the NSF’s Innovation-CORPS (I-CORPS), a two-month intensive training that uses an entrepreneurship model to teach participants to achieve scalable sustainability in NSF-funded projects. Past projects include evaluation of an NSF-funded project to improve advising for engineering students at a major state university in California. Ms. Schiorring is the author and co-author of numerous papers and served as project lead on a major study of transfer in engineering. Ms. Schiorring holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University.

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Efforts to remain competitive internationally in engineering and technology require a significant increase in the number of STEM graduates in the United States. Recently there has also been an increasing awareness of the important role that community colleges play in educating STEM professionals, especially in broadening participation among students from underrepresented minorities (URMs). Since 2000, underrepresented minorities’ shares in engineering and physical science degrees have been flat despite a rapid increase in their representation of the overall US population. In fact, even though URMs currently constitute 30 percent of the US population, they account for only about 12.5 percent of baccalaureate degrees awarded in engineering. One common approach to broaden participation, increase engagement, and boost retention are undergraduate research experiences. Despite a number of growing studies that show the greatest gains are achieved in providing these experiences in the first two years of college, a recent extensive study of Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs shows that 91% of these research experiences are provided to junior and senior students. Developing successful research programs suited for community college students is challenging, for most of these institutions lack the faculty expertise and facilities to support on-going research programs. To address this large barrier to student success, a small Hispanic-serving community college in Northern California, in collaboration with a large local urban university, developed and implemented a ten-week Summer Group Research internship program suitable for sophomore students who have little to no previous research experience and have at least one more year of courses to complete at the community college before transfer. Held in the university’s research facilities, the program engages community college students in graduate-level engineering research projects under the supervision of a university professor and a graduate student mentor. This paper highlights the collaborative development of the program, along with results of interviews with students who participated in the 2016 and 2017 Summer Group Research programs. The interview protocol is presented along with data from four key areas of inquiry that were identified to examine the internships’ impact on engineering self-efficacy and commitment to an engineering career, academic goals and interest in research, career goals, and engagement with professionals from academia and industry. Best practices and lessons learned are shared, along with recommendations for colleges looking to replicate the program.

Langhoff, N., & Enriquez, A. G., & Schiorring, E. (2018, June), Student Perceptions of a Summer Research Internship Program for Underrepresented Community College Engineering Students Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31010

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