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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.
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-