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Study of the Students of a Summer 2007 Engineering Bridge Program

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Conference

2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

First-year Programs Poster Session

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count

10

Page Numbers

25.1203.1 - 25.1203.10

DOI

10.18260/1-2--21960

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/21960

Download Count

373

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Paper Authors

author page

William Berg University of Texas, Brownsville

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Abstract

Study of the students of a summer 2007 Engineering Bridge programIn the summer of 2007, a summer engineering bridge program was presented by the EngineeringDepartment of [a border university], an institution which serves a region where opportunities forhigher education has been limited and where the proportion of the population with bachelorsdegrees, and in particular with engineering and science degrees, is lower than the average in thecountry. The summer program was created to prepare students for an engineering education andto ease the “paradigm shift” from high school, where the mission is to graduate a captiveaudience of students, to college, where the mission is to prepare volunteer students forprofessions, arts, or academia. The math and science foundation received in public school by ourincoming engineering freshmen was perceived by the Engineering Department faculty as weak,and it was causing problems for the students, who struggled through math and science courses.The 2007 summer program included three courses, 1) Introduction to Engineering, 2) amathematics review course to prepare students for a Mathematics Department examination thatwould allow students to enter Calculus I (the college entrance examination used at the time didnot assess math level), and 3) a course designed to give practice with Engineering English,primarily for students with poor English skills.Fourteen students attended the summer program, half of whom were recruited from high schoolsin [the Mexican sister city across the border]. The university, an Hispanic Serving Institution,has a student body over 90% Hispanic. All 14 students in the program were Hispanic. Based onexperiences with a cohort of very high-achieving students from the sister city five years earlier,the faculty of the [university] Engineering Department believed that high school graduates fromMexico were more fully prepared in math than local high school graduates and were thereforemore likely to succeed in an engineering program. This turned out to be half true. Mexican highschool students interested in technical or engineering fields do take calculus, but that does notmean the subject is absorbed by all. The other half of the students were from magnet programsat local high schools.The first student from the 2007 summer program graduated with a B.S. degree in [Engineering]in May, 2011, four years after starting. Five more students are planning to graduate by May2012, two with Engineering degrees, two with Computer Science degrees, and one with aPhysics degree. Two more student will graduate with an engineering degree in May 2013. Thisis a total of eight graduates with STEM bachelor degrees in less than six years. A tenth student isnow a Psychology major and an eleventh is a major in Criminal Justice, both with latergraduation dates. The other three dropped out of college by the end of the 2008-2009 academicyear.This paper describes the program in some detail, and tracks the progress of the students from thesummer of 2007 to the present, with comparisons between the products of Mexican high schoolsand American public high school magnet programs. The number of students in the program whocompleted demanding curricula in a reasonable time represents a higher success rate than theaverage for the region, and therefore it may be considered a success. Still, valuable lessons werelearned and this presentation reports on some suggestions to be incorporated into future summerprograms.

Berg, W. (2012, June), Study of the Students of a Summer 2007 Engineering Bridge Program Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21960

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