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Successful Undergraduate Summer Research Experience For Minority Students

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Research in Minority Issues

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1176.1 - 11.1176.10



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Paper Authors


Jorge Alvarado Texas A&M University

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Dr. Jorge Alvarado is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M University. He teaches courses in the areas of thermal sciences, fluid mechanics and fluid power. Dr. Alvarado’s research interests are in the areas of nanotechnology, micro-scale heat transfer, electronic cooling and phase change materials, solid and liquid desiccant regeneration, energy conservation and use of renewable energy in buildings.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Successful Undergraduate Summer Research Experience for Minority Students


Minority student enrollment in engineering graduate programs continues to be a challenge especially among Hispanics. A relatively small number of Hispanics in undergraduate engineering programs decide to continue their education once they receive a bachelor degree. An array of factors affects each the student decision making process and commitment to pursue advanced degrees. Fortunately, many top ranked universities in the US have outreach summer programs to help guide undergraduate students through the unpredictable world of graduate studies. Unfortunately, many minority students do not know these programs exist nor know how to fully take advantage of the unique opportunities they offer. Outreach programs should have a strong marketing component to be completely successful.

One successful way to increase minority participation in undergraduate summer programs is by active participation and involvement of faculty members at both ends of the outreach program. In this paper, a successful approach used in the recruiting of minority students is presented. The approach consists in networking faculty members at top ranked universities with faculty at minority serving institutions, who can help identify potential students. Once minority students are invited to participate in a particular undergraduate research program, the designated faculty should closely monitors the students’ performance. In a typical outreach program, students are quickly introduced to an interesting research project and asked to perform a variety of tasks and activities similar to the ones assigned to any regular graduate students. They include literature search and review, organization and selection of research ideas and results, and development and implementation of a research plan. Students are highly encouraged to be self-reliant, innovative, highly motivated, organized and methodical which are necessary characteristics of any successful graduate student in graduate school. In the paper, a specific case study is presented, which discusses the importance of assessing the students abilities and skills early in the program to ensure successful completion of the research program objectives. Finally, a list of successful outcomes and recommendations are presented.


Recruiting and retention of minority students in engineering programs continues to be a major challenge in the US. According to the latest statistics, the percent of engineering graduate students who belong to underrepresented groups continues to be well below of the national average. As a result, aggressive outreach programs have been set up around the country to counteract this negative trend. One way to promote the recruiting and retention of underrepresented groups or minorities in engineering graduate programs is by engaging potential students early in their undergraduate education. Undergraduate research experience of short duration can certainly change the students’ perception about graduate studies in a positive way.

Alvarado, J. (2006, June), Successful Undergraduate Summer Research Experience For Minority Students Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--794

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