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The Impact Of The Aerospace Science Engineering Program At Tuskegee University

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.1016.1 - 6.1016.7

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Paper Authors

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Vascar Harris

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Eric Sheppard

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

Session 2370

The Impact of the Aerospace Science Engineering Program at Tuskegee University

Eric J. Sheppard, Vascar G. Harris

Aerospace Science Engineering Department Tuskegee University Tuskegee, AL 36088


The engineering programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities play a significant statistical role in the production of African-American engineers. An example is Tuskegee’s Aerospace Science Engineering Department, which has produced up to one fifth of the African American aerospace engineering B.S. degrees in some years. Given this information, the department is making plans for its future.

I. Introduction

There has been much discussion of the under-representation of African Americans in the field of engineering, and both causes and effects have been analyzed. References 1 and 2 are examples concerned with retention issues that are particularly relevant to this paper. Some of the key issues identified in these references are the importance of financial aid resources and the complexity of addressing minority retention rates that lag far behind the retention rates of non- minorities. In response, many universities across the country set up programs to help recruit and retain underrepresented groups. This under-representation is also of interest to the HBCUs with engineering programs, and this paper discusses their role in the effort to produce a more diverse pool of engineers, specifically the impact of Tuskegee University’s Aerospace Science Engineering Department.

Booker T. Washington, founding President of what is now Tuskegee University, stated “that in proportion as the Negro learned to produce what other people wanted and must have, in the same proportion would he be respected.”3 This is a cornerstone of Tuskegee’s educational philosophy and reflects a common sense (if sometimes judged optimistic) goal of the Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs).

This paper first looks at the impact of HBCU engineering schools in general. Nine accredited engineering schools at HBCUs awarded degrees throughout the entire period covered by this paper. Although these nine schools represented a small fraction of all engineering schools in the U.S., these institutions awarded approximately one quarter of the U.S. engineering B.S. degrees awarded to African-Americans (A/A). Second, the impact of the Aerospace Science Engineering (ASE) Department at Tuskegee University (TU) is considered. Over the years focused on in this paper, the ASE department was the only accredited Aerospace Engineering program at an HBCU

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Harris, V., & Sheppard, E. (2001, June), The Impact Of The Aerospace Science Engineering Program At Tuskegee University Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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