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The Hostos Engineering Academic Talent (HEAT) Scholarship Program: An Educational Model to Enhance Socio-Economic Mobility for Community College Students

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Yoel Rodríguez

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Dr. Yoel Rodríguez is a theoretical biophysicist and Professor of Physics and Chemistry in CUNY’s Hostos Community College. He is also a visiting professor of the Pharmacological Sciences Department at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS). In addition, he is the Coordinator of the Joint Dual Engineering Degree Program with The City College of New York’s Grove School of Engineering of CUNY. He received his B.S. degree in Physical Chemistry from Havana University, and his Ph.D. in Theoretical Biophysics at the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain. Afterwards, he completed his postdoctoral training at ISMMS, New York in Computational Biophysics. He has published several peer-reviewed research articles and presented at numerous conferences. Dr. Rodríguez’s research is directed toward applying Computational Theoretical Biophysics approaches to a better understanding of fundamental molecular mechanisms in biological processes with implications in cancer, neurodegenerative disorders and cardiovascular diseases. He has received multiple educational and research grants from different agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF S-STEM, PI) and the National Institute of Health. Dr. Rodríguez has been the recipient of the prestigious Fulbright Scholar award in the 2016-2017 Academic Year. He has also been awarded the CUNY Chancellor’s Research Fellowship twice, in the 2015-2016 and 2017-2018 academic years. Dr. Rodríguez is also captivated by STEM pedagogical research and mentoring of undergraduate students. His mentees have earned multiple awards at undergraduate STEM conferences, and several have continued to earn graduate degrees in the field of science and engineering.

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Antonios Varelas

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Antonios Varelas PhD is a Professor of Psychology in the Behavioral and Social Sciences Department at Hostos Community College, CUNY. Dr. Varelas is a Behavior Analyst with a record of scholarship in the use of principles of concept formation in the undergraduate classroom, the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, the impact of Supplemental Instruction, and the effect of a combined mentorship model on academic, professional, and personal development in community college students. In addition to his publication record in each of these areas, he is currently serving as co-PI for the NSF funded HEAT Scholarship Program which aims to provide support for academically talented students pursuing degrees in STEM disciplines.

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Clara Nieto-Wire

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Nieves Angulo


Anthony DePass DePass Academic Consulting

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Dr. Anthony DePass is the Co-Director for the Louis Stokes Regional Center of Excellence for the Study of STEM interventions, and Director of Understanding Interventions that Broaden Participation in Science (UI). The annual UI conferences serve as a major venue for the dissemination of scholarship related to STEM interventions research, as well as facilitating training activities for evaluators, interventions researchers, and program administrators. Dr. DePass is the Publisher of the UI Journal, and over the last three decades, he has led and evaluated several externally funded training and development programs including NSF ADVANCE, LSAMP, SSTEM, HBCU-UP, IUSE and Noyce Teacher Scholarship program.

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Hostos Community College, a Hispanic-Serving Institution in the South Bronx, has partnered with The City College of New York’s Grove School of Engineering to recently build the NSF-DUE-funded Hostos Engineering Academic Talent (HEAT) Scholarship Program. HEAT supports highly motivated low-income students to graduate and earn admission into 4-year engineering programs. In addition to financial support, HEAT offers its scholars a combined faculty- and peer-mentoring model that extends through matriculation and graduation from the 4-year institution. HEAT aims to examine the impact of this combined mentoring model on the outcome of its scholars. We report positive impacts of this model on student academic performance as assessed by rates of retention and 4-year college matriculation in engineering disciplines: 90% of the scholars remain in the program, have graduated with an A.S. in Engineering, and/or working in engineering. Here, we examine the HEAT Scholars’ perception about the program. HEAT Scholars have reported that the combined mentoring model is the most valuable aspect of the program. Altogether, HEAT serves as a model for improving engineering / STEM education outcomes and enhancing socio-economic mobility among underserved communities for adoption by other community colleges and 4-year institutions.

Rodríguez, Y., & Varelas, A., & Nieto-Wire, C., & Angulo, N., & DePass, A. (2022, August), The Hostos Engineering Academic Talent (HEAT) Scholarship Program: An Educational Model to Enhance Socio-Economic Mobility for Community College Students Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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