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Summer Diversity Program Enhances Female and Underrepresented Minority Student Academic Performance and Retention in the Drexel University College of Engineering

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

WIED: Curricular Undergraduate Student Programs

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1140.1 - 24.1140.11



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Paper Authors


Alistar Erickson-Ludwig Drexel University (Eng.)

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Ms. Alistar Erickson-Ludwig serves as the STEM Program Coordinator in the College of Engineering at Drexel University. She focuses on outreach and education related programs for current undergraduates, k-12 students, and the community. She concentrates on the Greater Philadelphia Sea Perch Underwater Robotics Competition, Summer Diversity Program, Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, and Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) at Drexel, among others. In collaboration with other College of Engineering faculty and staff she co-teaches a sequence of classes for the Paul Peck Scholars Program. Alistar received her B.A. from Drew University and Master’s from Duke University.

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Alisa Morss Clyne Drexel University (Eng.)

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Alisa Morss Clyne is currently an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, with a courtesy appointment in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science, and Health Systems, at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Clyne is director of the Vascular Kinetics Laboratory, which investigates integrated mechanical and biochemical interactions among cells and proteins of the cardiovascular system. She is particularly interested in how endothelial cell mechanotransduction changes in a diseased environment, and how fluid shear stress and substrate mechanics affect growth factor binding kinetics, transport, and signaling. Her laboratory also translates fundamental discoveries in these areas into novel therapeutics, including nanoparticle-based drug delivery and tissue engineering scaffolds.
Dr. Clyne received her bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University in 1996. She worked as an engineer in the GE Aircraft Engines Technical Leadership Program for four years, concurrently earning her Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati. In 2006, she received her Doctorate in Medical and Mechanical Engineering from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.
Dr. Clyne received an NSF CAREER award in 2008 and an American Heart Association Scientist Development Grant in 2010. She received both research and educational funding from NSF, NIH, Department of Education, the Nanotechnology Institute, and the State of Pennsylvania. She is a member of ASEE, ASME, BMES, IEEE-EMBC, Sigma Xi, and SWE. Her teaching focuses on mechanical engineering applications in biological systems, and she founded several programs to increase diversity within engineering.

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Summer Diversity Program enhances female and underrepresented minority student academic performance and retention in the College of EngineeringProgram OverviewOver the past three years, the College of Engineering hosted a “pre-orientation” program foraccepted incoming students. The program goal was to prepare female and underrepresentedminority freshmen for life as engineering students at the University. This program familiarizedstudents with the engineering curriculum and prepared them to succeed in their freshman year.Each morning, the students studied math and basic sciences (chemistry and physics) with thesame professors who teach freshmen courses. During the afternoon, the students participated inhands-on design and computer labs. In the evening and during the weekend, students hadrecitation sections (led by graduate students) to reinforce the daily material. Students took examsin their courses to prepare for the college testing process. They delivered an oral presentation andworked both alone and in groups. The prospective students socialized with current engineeringfaculty and students and participated in social activities to build community and explore the city.Housing, course materials, meals and events were paid for by the program corporate sponsors.Program ParticipantsAll accepted incoming women and underrepresented minority students in the College ofEngineering were invited via email to participate in the program. Students submitted anapplication and a $500 deposit, although this payment was waived for students whodemonstrated financial need. In year one (2011) 18 students participated in the program. 14 ofthese were women, and 4 were underrepresented minorities. In year two (2012) 26 studentsparticipated in the program; 14 of the participants were women, and 14 were underrepresentedminorities. In year three (2013) 22 students participated in the program; 13 of the participantswere female, and 13 were underrepresented minorities.Program OutcomesStudents completed surveys based on the National Engineering Students’ Learning OutcomesSurvey at the start and end of the program. Each year, students showed significant positiveoutcomes following the program. Problem solving and experimentation, communication, datainterpretation and organizational skills increased consistently each year.Program participants’ grade point averages (GPA) were above average. Students entering theCollege of Engineering in Fall 2011 averaged a 2.85 GPA (+/– 0.79) following their second year.2011 program participants who were still enrolled at the University at the end of year 2 had a2.97 GPA (+/- 0.49). A similar pattern holds for 2012. College of Engineering students enteringin Fall 2012 averaged a 2.9 GPA (+/– 0.76) following their first year. 2012 program participantshad a 3.05 GPA (+/– 0.63) following their first year. While these changes were not statisticallysignificant due to the small number of program participants (N=15 and 24), the trend suggeststhat program participants’ GPAs were no lower––and probably higher––than College ofEngineering students overall.Program participant retention was also higher than the average. The College of Engineeringretention rate is 78% from freshman to sophomore year and 65.3% from freshman to pre-junior(3rd) year. Program participant retention was 92% after year one and 83% after year two.In conclusion, the College of Engineering Summer Diversity Program provided incoming femaleand underrepresented minority freshmen with the academic and social foundation to help themsucceed in their engineering education.

Erickson-Ludwig, A., & Clyne, A. M. (2014, June), Summer Diversity Program Enhances Female and Underrepresented Minority Student Academic Performance and Retention in the Drexel University College of Engineering Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23073

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