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The Path from Community College to Engineering Bachelor’s Degree Through Partnerships and NSF S-STEM Funded Scholarships

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Diversity and Two-year Colleges part 2

Tagged Division

Two-Year College

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Paper Authors


A. Fort Gwinn Lipscomb University

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Dr Fort Gwinn is associate dean of the Raymond B Jones College of Engineering at Lipscomb University and also teaches Mechanical Engineering courses in machine design, vibrations, and finite element analysis. Prior to coming to Lipscomb University in 1999, he spent 22 years in the automotive and aerospace testing industry where he gained valuable insights in engineering design and analysis.

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Todd Gary

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Todd Gary is the external evaluation for Lipscomb University's NSF S-STEM award #1458735 “Enhancing Engineering Talent in Tennessee.” He has been an external evaluator on a USDA award focused on precision agriculture. He is the Director of Community and Research Development at the School of Applied Computational Sciences at Meharry Medical College. He was a community college transfer student then went on to receive a PhD from Vanderbilt University.

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In the spring of 2014, Governor Bill Haslam signed Tennessee Promise into law; making it possible for Tennessee high school graduates to complete two years of community college free of charge. In the fall of 2016, the first cohort of Tennessee Promise students began the transition from two-year pre-engineering community college curricula to four year institutions in order to complete their engineering education. As a result of the National Science Foundation S-STEM grant program, Lipscomb University has been able to provide significant scholarship assistance by way of the Enhancing Engineering Talent in Tennessee S-STEM grant that is designed to provide tuition assistance to Tennessee community college students as they transition to Lipscomb’s 4-year ABET accredited programs. During the course of this grant, there have been twenty NSF S-STEM scholarship recipients admitted to Lipscomb’s engineering college from four different public Tennessee community colleges. This student population represents a wide range of academic and life experiences that present unique challenges with regard to their transition into a 4-year program. An important aspect of this grant includes partnering with community colleges in the Middle Tennessee area to provide STEM enrichment and early pre-transfer advising. This paper presents a comparison of the state-wide approved Tennessee Community College Engineering Pathway curricula with Lipscomb University’s engineering curricula in Civil Engineering, Electrical/Computer Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering and the harmonization of the different curricula. The effect of this program regarding perceived barriers to the success of community college students and community college transfers; changes in faculty and staff perceptions regarding community college transfers; and the effects of the program on community college student matriculation and completion of Lipscomb’s engineering program are presented.

Gwinn, A. F., & Gary, T. (2021, July), The Path from Community College to Engineering Bachelor’s Degree Through Partnerships and NSF S-STEM Funded Scholarships Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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