Bucknell Program Seeks to Boost Retention of Minority Engineering Students

In 2010, Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, established the Engineering Success Alliance, a program designed to increase diversity among engineering majors and to boost retention of engineering students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Students who participate in the program receive academic support services, peer support, tutoring, and internship and research opportunities. Students get to interact with an advisory board that includes Bucknell engineering alumni and the university’s president. This year, there are nine sophomores and 13 freshmen enrolled in the Engineering Success Alliance.

George Pierson, CEO of the international engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc. and a 1984 Bucknell graduate, has pledged $250,000 to support the program for five years. The university has committed to raising $1 million to support the alliance and is more than halfway to its fundraising goal.

“The biggest thing the students get from the program is confidence,” said ESA Director Barbra Steinhurst. “Some of that is coming from the math lab and certainly with interactions with the advisory board. The persistence also comes from knowing someone is watching out for them.”

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