3
Recruitment and Retention

In this chapter, the committee discusses the recruitment and retention of students interested in pursuing a transfer pathway to a baccalaure ate or advanced degree in engineering. The chapter includes (1) descriptions of efforts by two-year institutions to attract and retain students in engineering science programs and prepare them to transfer to four-year engineering programs and (2) descriptions of efforts by four-year institutions to recruit students from community colleges and retain them in their engineering degree programs. The recruitment and retention of women and minority students, who are underrepresented in engineering, is also a focus of attention.

The National Science Board (2004) recently observed “a troubling decline in the number of U.S. citizens who are training to become scientists and engineers, whereas the number of jobs requiring science and engineering … training continues to grow.” The board further observed:

… if the trends identified in Indicators 2004 continue undeterred, three things will happen. The number of jobs in the U.S. economy that require science and engineering training will grow; the number of U.S. citizens prepared for those jobs will, at best, be level; and the availability of people from other countries who have science and engineering training will decline, either because of limits to entry imposed by U.S. national security restrictions or because of intense global competition for people with these skills.


Even if action is taken today to change these trends, the reversal is 10 to 20 years away. The students entering the science and engineering workforce in 2004 with advanced degrees decided to take the necessary math-



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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers 3 Recruitment and Retention In this chapter, the committee discusses the recruitment and retention of students interested in pursuing a transfer pathway to a baccalaure ate or advanced degree in engineering. The chapter includes (1) descriptions of efforts by two-year institutions to attract and retain students in engineering science programs and prepare them to transfer to four-year engineering programs and (2) descriptions of efforts by four-year institutions to recruit students from community colleges and retain them in their engineering degree programs. The recruitment and retention of women and minority students, who are underrepresented in engineering, is also a focus of attention. The National Science Board (2004) recently observed “a troubling decline in the number of U.S. citizens who are training to become scientists and engineers, whereas the number of jobs requiring science and engineering … training continues to grow.” The board further observed: … if the trends identified in Indicators 2004 continue undeterred, three things will happen. The number of jobs in the U.S. economy that require science and engineering training will grow; the number of U.S. citizens prepared for those jobs will, at best, be level; and the availability of people from other countries who have science and engineering training will decline, either because of limits to entry imposed by U.S. national security restrictions or because of intense global competition for people with these skills. Even if action is taken today to change these trends, the reversal is 10 to 20 years away. The students entering the science and engineering workforce in 2004 with advanced degrees decided to take the necessary math-

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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers ematics courses to enable this career path when they were in middle school, up to 14 years ago. The students making that same decision in middle school today won’t complete advanced training for science and engineering occupations until 2018 or 2020. If action is not taken now to change these trends, we could reach 2020 and find that the ability of U.S. research and educational institutions to regenerate has been damaged and that their preeminence has been lost to other areas of the world. These statements underscore the importance of recruiting and retaining students who are U.S. citizens to the field of engineering. KEY CHALLENGES One of the critical challenges facing community colleges is increasing awareness of the opportunities they can offer engineering students. Students continue to enter community colleges without realizing they can obtain a four-year degree in engineering by beginning their studies at a community college and transferring to a four-year university engineering program. In addition, students and parents are often unaware of other benefits offered by community colleges, such as lower costs and flexible class scheduling. There is also a widespread belief that the education provided by community colleges is inferior to that of four-year institutions. Participants in the workshop also pointed out other challenges: inadequate or nonexistent guidance counseling in high schools a lack of advertising by community colleges and state agencies a failure of community colleges and four-year educational institutions to reach out to local high schools and to solicit the help of alumnae who could serve as role models and mentors the lack of data tracking outcomes for transfer students, which could demonstrate the viability of the community college pathway to engineering degrees a lack of recognition, guidance, assistance, and cooperation from four-year educational institution To significantly increase the number of students who embark on the community college pathway to engineering, four-year schools will have to use their brand images to promote community college programs, perhaps by developing joint admission and recruitment programs with two-year schools. For example, a four-year school’s name could be listed next to the engineering science major on the community college application, and promotional materials and high school outreach programs developed jointly should prominently feature the names of both schools. Workshop participants generally agreed that strong partnerships be-

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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers tween community colleges and four-year engineering programs improve student recruitment and retention for both institutions. Community colleges that reach out to potential students through a variety of messages and media and demonstrate that they have a proven record of success in preparing students to transfer to an engineering degree program are more likely to succeed in their recruitment and retention activities, especially if they have an established articulation agreement with a four-year institution. Four-year institutional partners also benefit by being able to draw on an expanded, and in some cases more diverse, recruitment pool that includes talented community college students. Moreover, four-year institutions will have better retention rates when they work together with community colleges to improve the preparation of students to pursue upper-division engineering courses. Awareness of the benefits of a community college education varies among communities and states. According to workshop participants, community colleges frequently are perceived as a less beneficial alternative to four-year institutions for beginning postsecondary education suggesting that community colleges must “market” themselves better by building bridges with both high schools and four-year institutions to get their message across. Both two- and four-year institutions should make more use of the Internet, especially to disseminate transfer information on institutional websites. Despite their recruitment efforts, community colleges report that many students who come to their campuses do not realize they can earn a four-year degree in engineering by starting on the community college pathway. This is especially true for students from inner-city schools and low-income communities, many of whom enter the educational pipeline through community colleges. Articulation agreements with four-year institutions are useful only if students and their parents are aware of them and are given proper guidance during the first two years of their coursework (Rifkin, 1998). Proximity often plays an important role in students’ decisions to attend community colleges. In many cases, four-year institutions with engineering programs are located in distant communities, and community colleges are nearby. Four-year institutions can improve their recruiting of students by making their campuses accessible to students who prefer not to travel long distances. Distance learning may be an option for such students, although it is not known how many community colleges offer distance learning options or how many students are involved. Some of the institutions represented at the workshop offer distance learning as a way of recruiting and retaining students. Another challenge for both community colleges and four-year institutions is to expand collaborations with high schools. As a number of work-

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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers shop participants noted, early competence in mathematics is key to successful matriculation in engineering. Another prerequisite is strong reading comprehension skills. Advanced high school students could also be encouraged to take concurrent courses at the community college level, which may improve their chances of completing an engineering degree. The committee and workshop participants agreed that encouraging students to earn community college credits in the twelfth grade was a good way to counteract “senioritis,” which is characterized by a drop in interest in academics as students approach graduation. Students in two-year programs often work part time or even full time, and many have family commitments. Working students frequently carry fewer credit hours and may become discouraged by how long it takes to complete the A.S. degree. Data collected by the National Center for Education Statistics suggest that many students who begin their higher educations at community colleges do not have adequate skills in mathematics and reading (Hoachlander et al., 2003). Students who require enrichment work to build up their skills before they can enroll in engineering science courses face higher costs and, typically, longer to earn their degrees. Some states require that community college students take courses that are not required of students at four-year institutions, for example, physical education, which may add to their financial burden and length of time before they are eligible to transfer. The growing diversity of the U.S. population and the number of college students who are first-generation Americans means that transfer students have increasingly diverse racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, often quite different from those of other students and faculty members. Engineering faculty members and administrators must recognize these differences and take into account that they may affect not only the social integration of transfer students, but also their academic performance. Tsapogas (2004) notes that GPAs tend to be lower for transfer students: Science and engineering graduates with lower undergraduate grade point averages (GPAs) were more likely to have attended community college than were graduates with higher grade point averages. Fifty percent of S&E [science and engineering] graduates with less than a 2.24 GPA (mostly C’s) reported that they had attended community college before receiving their S&E degrees, compared with 42 percent of those with an undergraduate GPA of 3.75–4.00 (mostly A’s). However, in a meta-analysis of transfer shock—the temporary dip in the GPAs of transfer students in the first or second semester after transfer—Diaz (cited in Laanan, 2001) found that in most cases the drop was not

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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers dramatic and that many students recovered quickly. Although the GPAs of transfer students entering four-year engineering programs tend to be lower than those of four-year-only students (which translates to lower GPAs at graduation), transfer students are as likely, or more likely, than four-year-only students to meet academic expectations. Their retention was reported by workshop participants as equal to, or greater than, the retention of four-year-only students. Adelman (1998) found that: among all students who reached the threshold of the engineering path and attended four-year colleges, the proportion of community college transfer students who completed bachelor’s degrees in any field was almost indistinguishable from the proportion of students completing bachelor’s degrees within four-year college attendance patterns, and the comparative proportions of these two groups completing degrees in engineering is not statistically significant. Specifically, 65.8 percent of community college transfer students completed a bachelor’s degree in engineering, compared with 60.4 percent of students in four-year-only institutions who persisted to the junior year. In the literature (and corroborated in the workshop), the lack of financial assistance for community college students is cited as a major barrier to their retention, both before and after they transfer to four-year engineering programs. While most states increased their spending on community colleges in the 2003–2004 academic year, tuitions also increased—on average by 7 percent nationwide (Katsinas et al., 2004). In addition, because of different institutional contexts, the sources of financial aid may be different for the subset of students who eventually transfer to four-year programs than for community college students as a whole. The weight of testimony from workshop participants concerning this issue, led the committee to conclude that there is a pressing need for new programs, as well as expanded existing programs and sources of financial assistance, for community college students and transfer students. Community college students often need financial assistance for many reasons. First, as noted above, many are working at least part time while they attend college. Financial assistance would enable them to focus more on their education. Second, students from the racial and ethnic groups that are underrepresented in engineering are more likely to come from low-income families for whom the cost of a community college education is a financial burden. Adelman (2004) suggests that low socioeconomic status lessens the likelihood of a student completing a degree. Zamani (2001) notes that low-income students and non-Asian minority students have lower transfer and program-completion rates. A recent report by the Pell Institute (2004) observed, “Most students from low-income families never consider going to college, and those who

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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers do tend to go to community and for-profit colleges.” The report cites data from the first national study to measure opportunities for low-income students to access and succeed in higher education in recent academic years (Table 3-1). A 2004 study found that financially needy first-generation college students are much more likely to complete an associate degree if they attend an institution with reliable class schedules and an easy-to-navigate bureaucracy (Person & Rosenbaum, 2004). The authors observed that “College access does not always translate quickly or easily into college success. We need to look at how colleges’ organizational environments might be more supportive for highly disadvantaged students.” The study identified three key organizational structures that seemed to raise graduation rates: “One-stop shopping”—prospective students could often enroll, register, and apply for federal financial aid by working with a single person in a single afternoon. This structure was typically available in private, but not public two-year colleges. Predictable and streamlined curricula. As noted above, low-income students often face an array of demands from jobs and family members. They are more likely to complete an associate degree if they can be confident that their courses will be offered in a regular sequence at convenient times of the day. Students at the public colleges often reported that classes had been canceled at the last minute, or that some of their required courses had been offered at night, but others during the day. Low counselor-student ratios. Because the private colleges’ accreditation partly depends on their graduation and job-placement rates, they closely monitor their students’ progress. The Pell report notes that the “stratification by students’ income” seems to be increasing, that is, low-income students are increasingly at- TABLE 3-1 Type of Institutions Students Attend, by Family Incomes Type of Institution Family Income (percent) Under $25,000 $25,000–$74,999 More than $75,000 Community college 20 59 21 Private two-year institution 22 50 28 Public four-year institution 11 48 41 Private four-year institution 8 35 57 SOURCE: Pell Institute, 2004.

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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers tending two-year and non-degree-granting institutions. The report concludes that, “If low-income students are unable to go to four-year colleges and obtain a bachelor’s degree, their aspirations and achievements will be limited” (Pell Institute, 2004). Transfer to a four-year engineering program almost certainly exacerbates the financial burden of low-income students and their families, not only because tuitions are higher than at community colleges, but also because demands on students’ time increase and course schedules are less flexible. The rigor of upper-division engineering courses also limits the number of hours students can work. Other students who enter engineering science programs better prepared academically and with more abundant financial resources may leave programs because the traditional curriculum—lacking design- and project-based content—fails to communicate what engineers actually do. This is also a problem in four-year engineering programs. Four-year engineering faculty could collaborate with two-year institutions to develop such courses. Retention strategies by a number of community colleges alone and in collaboration with four-year partners include scholarships, internships, faculty advisors, mentoring by peers, study centers and mentoring programs, mathematics laboratories, weekend and evening hours for laboratories and study centers, engineering clubs, collaborations with local industry, and joint events with four-year partners to highlight the project and design elements of engineering. EXEMPLARY APPROACHES TO RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION Recruitment strategies by a number of community colleges represented at the workshop had many common features: visits to local high schools direct mailings to principles, counselors, and students who were not admitted to four-year institutions and others, whose names may be supplied by four-year institutions in the area advertisements via posters, brochures, and websites participation in joint recruitment events with four-year partners providing speakers for physics and other classes at local high schools inviting college representatives to speak at local career days sponsoring senior preview days in the spring inviting community college students to robotics competitions and other project or design events held on university campuses

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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers engineering camps and after-school programs providing scholarships and internships to transfer students recruitment events at local military bases recruitment events at technology days Less frequently mentioned features included visits to middle schools, collaborations with K–12 teachers, and outreach to high school students through invitations to observe or compete alongside community college engineering students (e.g., in robotics and other design-and-fabrication competitions) in events held on university campuses. North Carolina State University/Lenoir Community College Partnership North Carolina State University (NCSU) provides its transfer partner, Lenoir Community College, with the names of students who were not accepted into its freshman class. Direct mailings are then sent to these students to inform them of the possibility of beginning their engineering degree work at Lenoir and transferring to NCSU as juniors. Lenoir and NCSU have just begun a program to work with K–12 students in the region to stimulate interest in engineering. University of Texas at San Antonio Pre-freshman Engineering Program Founded in 1979, the University of Texas at San Antonio Pre-freshman Engineering Program (PREP) is designed to address the problem of recruitment and retention of students in engineering programs. The program has been so successful that it has been replicated at several locations in Texas and other states. PREP is designed to motivate middle school students to begin studying for careers in science, engineering, and technology. According to the program website (www.texprep.org), 90 percent of students who participated in the program have graduated from college, and 52 percent of them majored in mathematics, science, or engineering. The most recent survey (in 2002) reported figures of 88 percent and 50 percent, respectively. Whether the small decline was part of a trend or simply the result of statistical fluctuation, faculty members felt that the rates could be improved. Because students usually complete PREP by their first year of high school, there are two more years for reinforcing their confidence that they are capable of earning a bachelor’s degree in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) field. To bridge the two-year gap, a new program was introduced at San Antonio College to provide a transition

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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers between the completion of PREP and the first year of college. This program—Early Development of General Engineering (EDGE)—is described below. West Kentucky Community and Technical College and University of Kentucky These two educational institutions have established a partnership for recruitment that includes collaborative scholarship programs and attendance at college nights at local high schools. They share advisory committee and board members and collaborate on infrastructure development (they share a common campus) and have a common tuition-billing program. San Antonio College Early Development of General Engineering Program (EDGE) The EDGE program was initiated during an eight-week summer session at the college in 2003. Twenty to twenty-five tenth- and eleventh-grade students were enrolled in two college courses: college algebra and introduction to engineering. The two classes met from 9 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday. Afternoon activities consisted of supervised study (SS1) and student success sessions (SS2) from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. In the SS1 sessions, groups of about 10 students worked together on homework and group projects, received assistance with assignments, and built a sense of community and shared success under the supervision of a leader or mentor. Key elements of the program were collaborative learning, peer support, workshops on study techniques, test taking, guest speakers, and special presentations on engineering. Four field trips introduced students to engineering in two private companies, one agency, and one university. Program results were compiled from the paper, “Getting an EDGE in Engineering Education” by O’Connor and Dimitriu (2004). MESA MSP and MSTC Programs MESA (mathematics, engineering, science achievement) operates two programs at the precollege level: the MESA School Program (MSP) and the MESA Success Through Collaboration (MSTC) Program. MSP assists students in middle schools (grades 6–8), high schools (typically grades 9–12), and some elementary schools to boost their performance in mathematics and science and become eligible to enroll in a college/university program in mathematics, engineering, or science. MSP offers individual academic plans, academic excellence workshops, training in study skills,

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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers day academies, career and college exploration (e.g., guest speakers and field trips to show students different college and career opportunities, including engineering), parent leadership development sessions, and teacher training opportunities. The MSTC program (which has been eliminated in at least one state since the workshop was organized due to budget cuts) was designed to build partnerships among individual schools, American Indian communities, and American Indian education centers. Targeted at a population that has little presence in engineering, this program is designed to increase the visibility of engineering as a career choice and provided academic skills necessary to entering a college or university engineering program. A unique feature of MSTTC is that its sites were located in remote rural areas, introducing mathematics-based career options in these communities. MSTP offered the same academic enrichment components as MSP. MESA Community College Program MESA Community College Program (MCCP) provides mathematics, engineering, and science enrichment to community college students to enable them to excel academically and ultimately transfer to four-year institutions as mathematics-based majors. The program establishes academic community centers on campuses where most students are commuters and peer support and information sharing are scarce. The program is supported by industry, which hopes to help students learn firsthand about career options, scholarships, internships, and special programs. MCCP offers a range of activities and services to community college students to improve retention rates and prepare students for transfer to four-year institutions. MCCP activities and services include: academic excellence workshops; an orientation course; assistance in the transfer process (help completing applications, counseling, and field trips to universities); a student study center on campus; and professional development workshops. MCCP’s career-advising services expose students to a variety of mathematics, engineering, and science career options through industry mentors, field trips, job shadowing, career fairs, and internships. The program links community college students with student and professional organizations through speakers’ series and tours of companies. Corporate representatives, including many alumni, participate on the board and provide an important connection between students and companies; they also make their companies’ resources available to MCCP students in the form of scholarships, strategic planning resources, summer internships, and field trips.

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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers Prince George’s Community College The STEM Collegian Center, a new program at Prince George’s Community College, provides both peer and faculty mentoring and advising to students in all STEM disciplines. Faculty members also work individually with students during the “Introduction to Engineering” course to help them become comfortable with seeking out career counseling and academic assistance from faculty members. Three Rivers Community College (TRCC) Every academic year, the director of the nuclear degree program takes all of the students in the Three Rivers Community College (TRCC) program on a tour of the nuclear engineering and health physics departments at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, to acquaint them with the academics of these programs and inform them about internships and permanent job opportunities. During the tour, graduates of TRCC meet with students in the program to discuss their personal experiences. Another feature of the program is that second-year students who are doing well in their coursework are asked to make themselves available as tutors for freshmen students. They set up mutually agreeable meeting times and assist the freshmen, as needed. A unique initiative at TRCC is a program in which designated third-year students act as tutors for second-year students. The third-year students are graduates of the nuclear engineering program who have been selected to stay on for a third year under full scholarship to obtain an additional A.S. degree in either electrical or mechanical technology. In addition, the 24 members of the Nuclear Advisory Committee make themselves available to meet with students on a one-on-one basis to discuss career possibilities. Members of that committee are from the nuclear business community in Connecticut and department chairs from the four-year programs into which TRCC students normally transfer. The results of the TRCC program have been greatly improved by the exceptional financial support of the nuclear industry, a feature that cannot be replicated by other programs, although it may provide a model. Jones County Junior College A faculty member at Jones County Junior College (the only college represented at the workshop that continues to describe itself as a junior college) describes the Student Engineering Society as the best feature of the engineering science program and an important retention tool. The society is a student chapter of National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) sponsored by the local MESA chapter. The society sponsors

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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers monthly talks by individuals from various engineering disciplines and trips to a variety of industries where students can learn firsthand what engineers of various types do on the job. Monroe Community College The Monroe Community College (MCC) program provides students with design-and-build experience in several engineering science courses. In the first semester, students design the chassis, transmission, and other components of a small car powered with a DC motor. The students then fabricate the parts in one of two manual machine shops on campus, using mills, lathes, and other tools. At the end of the semester, the cars compete in sprinting, pulling, and climbing events. In the second semester, students are assigned an electronic micro-controller design project. For example, students design and build alarm systems with infrared sensors, servomotors, switches, light-emitting diodes, speakers, and microcontrollers. In their final semester, students work in teams to design and build a working prototype to compete in the annual SUNY Engineering Science Association Competition. The top three MCC teams receive funding from the engineering club to travel to and compete at the SUNY Two Year Engineering Science Association (TYESA) Competition. In the final semester of 2004, students designed and built robots that collected three red and three blue golf balls on an 8 ft × 8ft plywood surface and deposited them in the appropriate red or blue goal. These design-and-build experiences are extremely stimulating for students. Faculty members have observed that students work harder on projects than on other class assignments. Design-and-build projects also prepare students to be self-directed learners and to work effectively with a team of peers. EXEMPLARY APPROACHES TO FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE Overall, community college students have a decidedly lower socioeconomic status distribution than four-year students. A higher proportion of them (45 percent) are first-generation college students with English as a second language, and many come from Hispanic backgrounds. These characteristics correlate with attendance at K–12 schools in urban and impoverished areas. In addition, many of these students do not reach the threshold for majoring in engineering (precalculus, calculus, introduction to engineering design, and engineering graphics [CAD]). These students typically end up spending more time obtaining an A.S. degree than students who enter with the requisite STEM background. Many students

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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers work part- or full-time while they attend community colleges; thus, their enrollment in classes may be sporadic, and it may take them longer than usual to earn an A.S. degree or certification, especially if the courses they need are not offered at times when they can attend. Thus, due to their circumstances, students who are academically unprepared and/or financially disadvantaged are at risk for dropping out of community colleges before they earn an associate degree. Three Rivers Community College The Three Rivers Community College (TRCC) program is a technology degree program, rather than an engineering science program, that has partnerships with four-year institutions with engineering degree programs. Although the focus of this report is on the latter, some sophomore and junior students from engineering technology degree programs at community colleges and technical schools do enter four-year engineering programs. The technology program is based on a unique partnership with a local nuclear facility. The Millstone Station nuclear facility offers as many as 17 scholarships each year to students in the TRCC nuclear program, providing tuition, fees, books, supplies, a monthly stipend during the academic year, a guaranteed 12-week summer internship, and access to job postings at the Millsone Station facility. Students who accept scholarships are under no obligation to work at the facility when they complete their studies. Graduates from the program can readily transfer into four-year degree programs in nuclear engineering nationwide as juniors. TRCC has articulation pacts with numerous four-year universities, all of which are accredited by Connecticut Engineering Accreditation Commission and Technology Accreditation Commission. Merrimack College Most of the students at Northern Essex Community College the partner institution of Merrimack College, are part-time students who work full or part time and cannot, therefore, attend Merrimack as full time students. To accommodate these students, Merrimack created an accredited, part-time electrical engineering degree for working students. Beginning in the fall of 2004, Merrimack also lowered its rates for part-time students from $760 per credit to $235 per credit. Merrimack College also offers science and engineering scholarships that enable community college students with a 3.5 GPA in an approved A.S. program to transfer to Merrimack with the same tuition and fees as for University of Massachusetts at Lowell.

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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers CONCLUSION The programs described above have developed innovative approaches to improve recruitment and retention, but a number of issues remain to be resolved. Further research might focus on identifying additional areas for improvement in recruitment and retention and measuring the effectiveness of current strategies. Improving the community college pathway for students from underrepresented minorities and women will be important to diversifying the U.S. engineering workforce. To be successful, community colleges and four-year educational institutions will have to achieve their recruitment and retention goals for nontraditional students. Representatives of four-year engineering programs at the workshop reported that retention rates for transfer students was generally as high, or higher, than the rate for four-year-only students. However, the number of community college students with the potential to complete B.S. degrees in engineering who leave the engineering pathway prior to transfer is not known. Programs aimed at recruitment range in intensity from one-time activities (e.g., visits to local schools, summer camps, and career fairs) to comprehensive national programs that focus on both social integration of minority students and academic preparedness and excellence in STEM disciplines. Broadly disseminated articulation agreements are essential to informing and reassuring students and parents that an engineering degree gained through the community college pathway is not only possible for them but is also highly probable if they follow the guidelines in the articulation agreements. In addition to articulation agreements, the recruitment and retention of engineering students requires close collaboration between transfer partners in a variety of other activities, including assistance with finding and applying to programs offering financial assistance. A key challenge to recruitment and retention is the need for more public awareness (especially among first-generation and low-income students) that it is possible to earn a B.S. degree in engineering through the community college pathway. Conclusion 3-1 Community colleges are in the best position to undertake outreach programs to K–12 teachers and students in their communities, using the successful communication and dissemination strategies described in this chapter of the report. Recruitment is most effective when data on the success of transfer students are available to potential students, parents, and high school teachers and advisors. Unfortunately, most two-year schools do not have the resources to compile and analyze these kinds of data.

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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers Another recruitment challenge is the widespread perception that the first two years of undergraduate engineering education is characterized by a sink-or-swim culture, the goal of which is to weed out weak students (Seymour & Hewitt, 1997). Additionally, women are more likely than men to perceive that the culture of engineering schools is particularly inhospitable to women (Heyman, et al, 2002). Faculty and administrators of colleges of engineering must work with community college personnel to change the climate from intimidating to inviting and supportive. This will require that faculty members be aware of the social and cultural backgrounds and learning styles of women and students from underrepresented minorities (NAE, 2004). The following activities can help create a welcoming environment, promote retention in A.S. programs, and increase the likelihood that community college students will transfer to four-year programs: joint participation by two- and four-year faculties in recruitment activities campus visits, faculty exchanges, and sharing of laboratories and other facilities academic counseling and mentoring of community college students by upper-division engineering students “leveling the playing field” between transfer and four-year-only students in subtle and not-so-subtle ways (e.g., GPA requirements) inclusion of community college students in engineering society chapters, build-and-design competitions, internships, and cooperative activities. Conclusion 3-2 The lack of financial assistance from institutional, state, and federal sources is an enormous barrier to the recruitment and retention of engineering science students in community colleges. Additional financial assistance is also needed for students who transfer to four-year engineering programs to ensure that they can afford to stay in school until graduation. Funding could come from institutions of higher education or through fellowships and scholarships for transfer students funded by industry, and the federal government. Research suggests that outreach to K–12 schools can encourage students to pursue engineering in college. The middle school years are a critical time for encouraging students, especially girls, to take the mathematics and science courses necessary to reach the threshold required to pursue an undergraduate degree in engineering (Adelman, 1999). Often, only a small number of students at an individual community college are interested in engineering, which makes it difficult to justify

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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers maintaining a faculty that has engineering expertise. In these cases, it is also difficult to attract students to the program. A series of seminars about engineering and technology/career opportunities, supported by the faculty and graduate students of the four-year partner and engineers in industry from the surrounding community, would help administrators gauge the interest of local students in engineering and enable them to plan and advocate for more engineering science faculty, if appropriate. Community colleges might also consider recruiting industry experts to teach on their campuses. Many practicing and retired engineers could contribute to engineering education and strengthen the links between the engineering curriculum and the real-world applications of coursework. After all, engineers do things. Four-year educational institutions, especially Research 1 universities, frequently have partnerships with industry on research projects and sometimes for instruction. Community colleges do not have the same opportunities to work with engineers in research, but they might still attract engineers in industry who are interested in connecting with students, through teaching, especially hands-on, project-based coursework. Conclusion 3-3 Community colleges could develop partnerships with industries in their areas to recruit interested and qualified industry engineers to demonstrate the practical applications of mathematics and introductory engineering coursework.