1999 and 2000 attended community colleges (Tsapogas, 2004). In some regions of the country, the numbers are even larger. The California Council on Science and Technology reported that 48 percent of graduates with science or engineering degrees from the California system began at community colleges and then transferred (CCST, 2002).

However, among the various functions of community colleges, the transfer function has yet to reach its full potential, for many reasons (Ulseth and Wenger, 2002):

  • a lack of understanding on the part of parents, teachers, counselors, and students of the importance of community colleges in engineering education

  • disagreement over curricular content and quality

  • ineffective articulation agreements

  • a lack of cooperation between high schools, community colleges, four-year institutions, and state higher education agencies

  • inadequate attention to the transfer of women and underrepresented minority students

  • insufficient statistics on student transfers, experiences, and outcomes


The study committee was charged with describing the evolving role of community colleges in engineering education, identifying exemplary programs at community colleges and model partnerships between two-year and four-year institutions, and recommending critical research questions that require further study. The study committee was overseen by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Committee on Diversity in the Engineering Workforce and Committee on Engineering Education and the National Research Council (NRC) Board on Higher Education and Workforce.


The NAE president and NRC chair appointed an ad hoc committee to carry out this study during 2004. Most of the committee’s time and effort involved carrying out fact-finding activities and analyzing the collected information. The main fact-finding activity was a one and one-half day workshop described below.

The members of the study committee, who were chosen for their expertise and experience, provided the insight and analysis for this report, which is intended to initiate a national dialogue on enhancing the role of community colleges in undergraduate engineering education. Committee

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