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University & Community Partnerships: Growing The Numbers Of Underrepresented Students In The Stem Pipeline

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Gender & Minority Issues in K-12 Engineering

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1318.1 - 13.1318.18



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Paper Authors

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Karla Korpela Michigan Technological University

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Shalini Suryanarayana Michigan Technological University

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Christine Anderson Michigan Technological University

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

University & Community Partnerships: Growing the Numbers of Underrepresented Students in the STEM Pipeline


Increasing student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers is a national issue that continues to challenge educators to produce a workforce strong in scientific and technical capabilities. As the demand for technical talent continues to grow, underrepresented groups must become an integral part of this workforce. Precollege STEM programs specifically targeted at women and minorities are invaluable tools in creating a pipeline to higher education. Coupled with additional access, mentoring, and retention programs, these programs increase the diversity of the pool of future scientific and technical workers.

Focusing on students entering the pipeline, Michigan Technological University’s extensive precollege programs (Youth Programs) have the strength of a 35 year history. The primary goals of the programs are to increase students knowledge and awareness of career options and to encourage students to become academically prepared for higher education. The core experience is a one-week residential precollege program on Michigan Tech’s campus. Programs such as Women in Engineering and the College Access Program are designed to attract students who are traditionally underrepresented students to STEM fields through hands-on, experiential education.

The most recent longitudinal survey of Michigan Tech’s precollege programs (seven years of program participants) shows that past participants ranked program educational content as the number one factor which impacted decisions about higher education, followed closely by career information and a “comfort” factor—helping the students to be comfortable with college and career decisions. In addition, the survey found that over 70% of past participants who responded indicated that the programs increased their interest in pursuing careers in STEM fields. When the data was analyzed by participant ethnicity, the “comfort” factor ranked above all other factors in importance for those students traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields.

With these programs focusing on students in the pipeline, there is a campus-wide effort to increase the awareness of the value of a diverse campus and to create an environment where all students feel comfortable. Michigan Tech’s Office of the President (Special Assistant to the President for Institutional Diversity) leads this effort, assisted by the Educational Opportunity Department. Michigan Tech has an extensive group of partners and supporters with closely aligned goals: to increase the number of students in the STEM pipeline and to create an inclusive environment at the University. These partners include schools, corporations, organizations, and local, regional, state and national entities. Many of these partners commit financial resources to ensure student success. They also contribute to Michigan Tech’s diversity initiatives by offering networks and forums for discussion; access to diverse students; professional development opportunities; programming and retention ideas; national and global career experiences; and advice to students, faculty, staff and administration on local, regional, state, national and global matters.

Korpela, K., & Suryanarayana, S., & Anderson, C. (2008, June), University & Community Partnerships: Growing The Numbers Of Underrepresented Students In The Stem Pipeline Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4045

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