Asee peer logo

Work In Progress: Engineering Success Bridge Program: Creating Sense of Belonging through Campus and Industry Supported Summer Bridge Program

Download Paper |


2020 First-Year Engineering Experience


East Lansing, Michigan

Publication Date

July 26, 2020

Start Date

July 26, 2020

End Date

July 28, 2020

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Victor Alonso Bradford University of Missouri - College of Engineering

visit author page

Victor Alonso Bradford currently serves as the Director of First Year Engineering (FYE) and Chapter Advisor for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers at the University of Missouri – College of Engineering (Mizzou). As a first-generation college graduate, Victor is committed to bringing STEM awareness and access to all who are interested. He has made a career in providing access to students and supporting them to achieve their higher education goals. He is fortunate to work alongside some of the greatest students, faculty, and staff that the world has to offer. He counts his blessings each day knowing he gets to play a small role in students achieving their academic goals.

visit author page


Tojan Rahhal University of Missouri - Columbia Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Dr. Tojan Rahhal is an Adjunct Professor in the Biomedical, Biological, and Chemical Engineering Department and the Assistant Dean for Inclusive Excellence and Strategic Initiatives at the University of Missouri-Columbia in the College of Engineering. Rahhal graduated from North Carolina State University with a BS in Biomedical Engineering. She went on to pursue a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Ch), working in the lab of Dr. Joseph M. DeSimone. Outside of her research efforts, she demonstrated commitment to service and leadership in the academic community, promoting awareness of issues regarding equality in science. She currently owns Alliance Professional Development ( where she works on providing customized workshops focusing on leadership, soft skills, and cultural awareness for companies and organizations. At MU she focuses on facilitating outreach, recruitment, retention, and overall success for all members of our community, especially those from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in engineering.

visit author page


Hani Salim P.E. University of Missouri - Columbia

visit author page

Dr. Salim is a professor of Civil Engineering and served at the associate dean for academic programs and student success at the college of engineering between 2015 and 2019. Through a collaboration with the provost office, the engineering summer bridge programs was developed to improve the educational experience and retention of incoming engineering students.

visit author page

Download Paper |


This work-in-progress paper will highlight the creation and expansion of the Mizzou Engineering Success Bridge Program (ESBP), a no-cost summer transition program for incoming freshmen at the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU) that has grown from a week-long to a month-long program that brings campus and industry professionals together to serve engineering’s most at-risked population.

The Engineering Success Bridge Program was organized by the First Year Engineering (FYE) Office, which serves to provide all new undergraduate students with the resources, opportunities and connections to smoothly transition to Mizzou Engineering, but also jumpstart their future careers. This retention initiative originated two years ago, with financial support from MU’s Provost Office, and has since evolved into a successful FYE Office consisting of a First Year Director, academic advisors and two graduate students. Through FYE strategies, students experience more individualized advising and follow-up, an exploration of their majors, participation in student success programs, and a better sense of community within the College of Engineering and MU.

This paper will follow the success of the FYE Office’s Engineering Success Bridge Program first two cohorts and how the office plans to expand to serve more students in June 2020. The bridge program that began as a one-week summer transition program in August 2018 was first created to serve the college’s Pre-Engineering population, students who have not met the college’s admission requirements based on ACT scores and math levels. Historically these students had significantly lower retention and graduation rates than students who met the college’s admission requirements.

Following higher education’s best retention practices on student’s Sense of Belonging, Mizzou Engineering hosted 45 engineering freshmen in a one-week transition program before the start of their freshmen year in August 2018. This one-week program introduced students to resources and opportunities available at MU and promoted a sense of community in which students felt comfortable utilizing peer and faculty mentors for guidance, academic services, and student success strategies to smoothly transition to engineering. The FYE Office saw a 12% retention rate increase from participants compared to Pre-Engineering students who did not attend.

Continuing the success of the 2018 program, ESBP expanded to four weeks in July 2019 hosting forty incoming freshmen. The 2019 ESBP, provided at no-cost to students, featured many of the components offered in 2018 with an addition of an engineering design project, career exploration sessions, hands-on activities highlighting engineering departments, and community-building activities with current Engineering students. Along with these research-based initiative, ESBP also provided students with a Chemistry and Math mock class, a Student Success Seminar Course, 3-credit hours of Public Speaking and access to industry professionals through company site visits and presentations. In its first semester, the 2019 cohort experienced a 93% fall-to-spring retention rate within the College of Engineering.

This goal of this paper is to provide attendees with the framework to implement a similar bridge program at their institutions. Additionally, the paper will demonstrate how this research-based initiative has helped Mizzou Engineering reach its highest retention rates in recent years.

Bradford, V. A., & Rahhal, T., & Salim, H. (2020, July), Work In Progress: Engineering Success Bridge Program: Creating Sense of Belonging through Campus and Industry Supported Summer Bridge Program Paper presented at 2020 First-Year Engineering Experience, East Lansing, Michigan.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2020 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015