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The Diversity Programs' Graduate Bridge Program

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1123.1 - 8.1123.11



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Paper Authors

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Robert LaFarge

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Chaouki Abdallah

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

Session 2793

The Diversity Programs' Graduate Bridge Program

Robert LaFarge and Chaouki T. Abdallah University of New Mexico


This country needs more female and underrepresented minority graduate students in STEM fields. According to the National Science Foundation, 1 a citizenry informed in science and engineering is critical to maintaining and improving our nation’s current standard of living. Higher education, particularly graduate education, is essential to meeting this goal; unfortunately, graduation rates for some minorities and women are underrepresented when compared to their presence in the population. This underrepresentation, which is even worse among engineering faculty, is of great concern to ASEE. Chubin and Slaughter 2 discuss in the September 2002 edition of Prism what they call the “stunted pipeline” that has resulted in the absence of minority faculty members in engineering education. They state that only 20% of the bachelor recipients are women and less than 12% were minorities in 2001. They challenge the engineering schools to produce more minority engineers, which will hopefully lead to more minority faculty.

In the April 2002 edition of Prism, Representative Vernon Ehlers, (R-MI), also makes a case for increasing the diversity in engineering. 3 He states:

Diversity is essential in engineering, beyond simply addressing the human capital needs of the tech-driven economy. William Wulf, president of the National Academy of Engineering, has remarked that engineering is fundamentally a creative process, and like any creative process, benefits when its practitioners can call on a spectrum of backgrounds, viewpoints, and experiences. Viewed in this light, diversity is essential in order to maximize our national capacity for continued innovation and progress

The University of New Mexico (UNM) and its School of Engineering (SOE) are totally committed to increasing their diversity across the spectrum of their students. While SOE has great success in attracting minority students to its undergraduate program, its graduate student record is not as stellar. The SOE minority undergraduate enrollment for 2000-2001 was 55% minority (63 Native Americans, 468 Hispanics, 35 Afro-Americans, and 66 Asian Americans /Pacific Islanders out of a total enrollment of 1150). The Diversity Programs (DP) in the School of Engineering has contributed much to this success by offering students support in the form of scholarships ( ~$300,000 annually), employment (DP employs about12 students), structured study sessions, tutoring, advisement, a computer lab, and work skill development workshops. Unfortunately, this success has not been translated into its graduate school where the minority enrollment is under 12%. This trend is not unique to UNM. According to NSF, African American, Native, American and Hispanics made up only 6%, 0.5%, and 5% of the U.S. science and engineering graduate student population respectively in 1997.1

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

LaFarge, R., & Abdallah, C. (2003, June), The Diversity Programs' Graduate Bridge Program Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11711

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