2
Introduction

BACKGROUND2

In the summer of 2002, the leadership of the All Nations Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (ANLSAMP) requested that the director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Johnson Space Center “loan” a senior engineer to serve as dean of engineering at Salish Kootenai College (SKC)—a tribally controlled college in Pablo, Montana. The engineer would serve a two-year term with the goal of developing culturally relevant programs to enable American Indian students to proceed from pre-curriculum preparation through a fully accredited bachelor of science (B.S.) degree in engineering while attending tribal colleges and universities (TCUs).

The plan was presented to the ANLSAMP Governing Board in October 2002, and a draft prospectus was developed in February 2003 at the invitation of the National Science Foundation (NSF). In April 2003, an invitation to participate in a working group to develop, implement, and sustain engineering studies at TCUs was circulated to all TCUs in the United States by the dean of engineering, Indigenous Math and Science Institute, SKC. Eleven TCUs responded to the invitation (about one-third of the TCUs at the time): Blackfeet Community College, Montana; Chief Dull Knife College, Montana; College of the Menominee Nation, Wisconsin; Crownpoint Institute of Technology, New Mexico; Fort Berthold Community College, North Dakota; Haskell Indian Nations University, Kansas; Salish Kootenai College (SKC), Montana; Sitting Bull College, North Dakota; Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI), New Mexico; United Tribes Technical College, North Dakota; and White Earth Tribal and Community College, Minnesota. These 11 TCUs formed an informal partnership in June 2003.

The group submitted a prospectus to NSF in June 2003. The partners agreed to form a working group in March 2004 and unanimously approved the first draft of a management plan (Appendix I) and the following program, to be achieved within five years of approval of the management plan:

  • At least one program at a partner college would offer a complete B.S. degree in engineering.

  • At least two additional programs would be in the planning stages.

  • At least two additional partner colleges would offer associate degree programs in engineering.

2  

The material in this section of the report was derived from the “Management Plan of the Tribal College Working Group” dated December 2004. Since the workshop, but prior to the dissemination of this report, the “Management Plan” and “Financial Needs Statement” were revised and presented to a group of federal agencies at a meeting sponsored by the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities.



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Engineering Studies at Tribal Colleges and Universities 2 Introduction BACKGROUND2 In the summer of 2002, the leadership of the All Nations Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (ANLSAMP) requested that the director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Johnson Space Center “loan” a senior engineer to serve as dean of engineering at Salish Kootenai College (SKC)—a tribally controlled college in Pablo, Montana. The engineer would serve a two-year term with the goal of developing culturally relevant programs to enable American Indian students to proceed from pre-curriculum preparation through a fully accredited bachelor of science (B.S.) degree in engineering while attending tribal colleges and universities (TCUs). The plan was presented to the ANLSAMP Governing Board in October 2002, and a draft prospectus was developed in February 2003 at the invitation of the National Science Foundation (NSF). In April 2003, an invitation to participate in a working group to develop, implement, and sustain engineering studies at TCUs was circulated to all TCUs in the United States by the dean of engineering, Indigenous Math and Science Institute, SKC. Eleven TCUs responded to the invitation (about one-third of the TCUs at the time): Blackfeet Community College, Montana; Chief Dull Knife College, Montana; College of the Menominee Nation, Wisconsin; Crownpoint Institute of Technology, New Mexico; Fort Berthold Community College, North Dakota; Haskell Indian Nations University, Kansas; Salish Kootenai College (SKC), Montana; Sitting Bull College, North Dakota; Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI), New Mexico; United Tribes Technical College, North Dakota; and White Earth Tribal and Community College, Minnesota. These 11 TCUs formed an informal partnership in June 2003. The group submitted a prospectus to NSF in June 2003. The partners agreed to form a working group in March 2004 and unanimously approved the first draft of a management plan (Appendix I) and the following program, to be achieved within five years of approval of the management plan: At least one program at a partner college would offer a complete B.S. degree in engineering. At least two additional programs would be in the planning stages. At least two additional partner colleges would offer associate degree programs in engineering. 2   The material in this section of the report was derived from the “Management Plan of the Tribal College Working Group” dated December 2004. Since the workshop, but prior to the dissemination of this report, the “Management Plan” and “Financial Needs Statement” were revised and presented to a group of federal agencies at a meeting sponsored by the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities.

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Engineering Studies at Tribal Colleges and Universities Each partner institution would offer designated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses that would support engineering studies. Faculties of programs that offer B.S. degrees would be actively involved in planning for accreditation by the Accreditation Board on Engineering and Technology (ABET). All partners would have the capability for students to enroll in STEM courses via distance education. (The partners plan to create a telecampus under the general management of Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute [SIPI].) The group also developed a preliminary five-year financial-needs statement (Appendix I) related to these program goals. The working group defined the following program features and goals: All programs and processes must be characterized by cultural relevance, academic excellence, and continuous improvement. All curricula and processes must be consistent with the vision and mission statements of participating TCUs and must be approved by the respective presidents and boards of directors. The programs will be made culturally relevant to students by including areas in which American Indians can make unique contributions to engineering practice on their home reservations, in government, and in industry. The partner institutions will make use of distance education to make courses available to Alaska Natives and other students in distant locations. In 2004, the partners presented the plan to ABET and, in July 2004, to a number of government agencies: the executive and legislative staffs of Montana and North Dakota and the White House Initiative on the Tribal Colleges and Universities (WHITCU); U.S. Department of Defense/National Security Agency (NSA); U.S. Department of Education; U.S. Department of Energy (DOE); the staff of NASA Headquarters and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Central Intelligence Agency; NSF; and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Motivation for Establishing an Engineering Program at a TCU Reasons for establishing a four-year engineering program at a TCU were outlined in a workshop presentation given by the former dean of engineering at SKC, who was on loan to SKC from NASA at the time the management plan was developed. They include: making it possible for American Indian students to complete a four-year engineering degree entirely within the tribal college system; reducing the high attrition rate of American Indian students who attend mainstream educational institutions; and providing an engineering program that is culturally relevant to tribal students. ROLE OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING The working group requested that NAE conduct a workshop—formally referred to by the National Academies as a consensus study—under the sponsorship of the dean of engineering at SKC for the purpose of providing expert, objective, independent advice to the working group. Funding for the workshop was provided by NSA. This letter report, the final product of the workshop, is a response to the questions in the Statement of Work.

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Engineering Studies at Tribal Colleges and Universities The president of NAE, Wm. A. Wulf, appointed an ad hoc committee to conduct the study. Biographies of committee members are provided in Appendix A. The committee met three times by teleconference to carry out fact-finding activities and identify experts and representatives of relevant organizations to take part in the workshop. The workshop agenda is provided in Appendix B, and a list of invited experts is provided in Appendix C. The committee met at the conclusion of the workshop to draft the letter report.