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Tapping into the Talent: Exploring the Barriers of the Engineering Transfer Pathway

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Two-year College Division: Authors Address Transfer Matters-Part II

Tagged Division

Two Year College Division

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1458.1 - 26.1458.20



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Paper Authors


Brooke Charae Coley University of Virginia

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Dr. Brooke Coley is Associate Director of the Center for Diversity in Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia. She comes to the University of Virginia from the National Science Foundation (NSF) where she was an Engineering Analyst in the Engineering Education and Centers Division of the Directorate for Engineering. She began at NSF as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Science & Technology Policy Fellow in 2011. She has a Ph.D. in Bioengineering with a concentration on Biomechanics from the University of Pittsburgh and she earned her B.S. in Chemical Engineering as a Meyerhoff Scholar at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

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Carolyn A. Vallas University of Virginia

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Tapping into the Talent: A Study Exploring the Barriers to Development of a Sustainable 2-Year to 4-Year Engineering Transfer PathwayIn order to remain globally competitive, the United States must maximize our nation’s capacityfor innovation. One critical asset to reaching this capacity lies in the cultivation of competent,adaptable engineers prepared lead in a global economy. Many engineering careers begin atcommunity colleges. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that in the year 2013 atotal of 80,243 associate’s degrees were conferred - 3,871 in Engineering, 37,475 in EngineeringTechnology and 38,897 in Computer Science. When coupled with the fact that more than 50%of undergraduates from Underrepresented groups attend community college, the opportunities toutilize 2-year and 4-year institutional partnerships to create sustainable pathways to engineeringbecomes apparent. In a time where population demographics are shifting and less people fromunderrepresented groups are choosing to enter STEM related fields of study, there is an urgentneed to capitalize on the talent pool of community college students for four-year institutionengineering programs.This work will present a case study on the structural and cultural barriers to the development of asuccessful, sustainable 2-year to 4-year transfer pathway at a South Atlantic Region Institution.Data on recruitment, enrollment, and attrition of transfer students to the engineering programwill be analyzed. Interviews will be conducted with currently enrolled transfer students to gainstudent perspectives. In addition, a focus group consisting of individuals from engineeringadministration, the Institution Transfer Center(s), Office of Admissions, engineering faculty, andthe Center for Diversity in Engineering from both the 2-year and 4-year institutions (whereapplicable) as well as representatives from industry will be created to secure knowledge,experiences, guidance and feedback from all stakeholder perspectives.Maximal engagement of students from community colleges, particularly those that have earnedassociate’s degrees, is of paramount importance. Clear and sustainable pathways must exist toenable a continuation of learning for those students that have demonstrated mastery in technicalareas in community college studies. It is anticipated that this project will shed insight into thestrategies to develop a transfer pathway to engineering that could be advantageous to communitycollege students in their professional pursuits and transformative to the development of theengineering workforce in the South Atlantic Region and beyond.

Coley, B. C., & Vallas, C. A. (2015, June), Tapping into the Talent: Exploring the Barriers of the Engineering Transfer Pathway Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24795

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