Universities Honored for Their Efforts to Increase Retention of Minority Engineering Students

The National Society of Black Engineers in conjunction with Exxon/Mobil Corporation have awarded three universities the Impact Award for their efforts to increase retention of minority students in engineering degree programs.

Michigan State University‘s Diversity Programs Office “Scholars Program” (DPO-SP) provides structure for students during their first two years. Mandatory program participation ensures a high level of commitment from both students and faculty. This early focus has allowed Michigan State University to attain a 78 percent graduation rate among program participants. Additional program components include opportunities for summer employment, research and increased access to faculty.

The Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston actively seeks to close higher-education gaps in student participation and student success in science, technology, engineering and math fields through the Program for Mastery in Engineering Studies (PROMES, pronounced “Promise”). Student success strategies include grouping new students into first-year courses, providing sophomores with peer-led supplemental learning in support of gatekeeper engineering and individualized academic advising. Formal and informal mentoring is also utilized in addition to ongoing personal and professional development opportunities through seminars and industry mentoring for upperclassmen.

University of Maryland College Park was honored for its Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Program. The university’s bridge program enrolls freshmen in coursework before their first semester in order to increase the quantity and quality of students receiving baccalaureate degrees in science and engineering. Created in 1984, as a diversity initiative in the A. James Clark School of Engineering, the bridge program is a four-year retention program which includes leadership opportunities, study abroad, research, career development, and graduate school preparation.

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