Click for next page ( 13


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 12
Undergracluate Students Demographic Forces The number of engineering graduates who will seek employment in the decade ahead is very difficult to predict. It is a complex function of many variables, some of which are confirmed, some partially under- stood, and some conjectured. There are three principal elements in the supply of engineering graduates: {1 ) the high school graduates' popula- tion {the potential based; ~2J the percentage of qualified applicants from that base who enter engineering programs; and ~3J the retention of engineering students. The Population Base The number of 1 8-year-olds in the U. S. population through the year 2000 rests on well-established projections. Only the migratory drift of families will further affect regional populations. It is generally thought that, barring unforeseen political or economic events, the current pat- tem of migration will produce a minor but reinforcing effect on the existing population-age characteristics already established in each region. The Westem Interstate Commission for Higher Education published a projection of high school graduates through 2000 [McConnell and Kaufman, 1984) that indicated a 22 percent decrease nationwide between 1982 and 1991, roughly approaching the low point of the 12

OCR for page 12
UNDERGRAD HATE S TUDENTS 900 `~ 800 in :3 o A) UJ '< 700 O 600 A: UJ m Z 500 01 1 1 1 1 1 1 984 Southeast/ South Central - - - _- .~ - / - West '~ ~Northeast 1987 1990 1993 13 1996 1999 YEAR FIGURE 1 U.S. high school graduates: projections for 1984-1999. SOURCE: Based on McConnell and Kaufman ( 1984). period. All but 10 states share in the decrease, which in absolute num- bers is a decline of approximately 590,000 high school graduates from a base of 2.712 million. Figure 1 shows that the decrease in graduates varies widely among regions of the country between 1984 and 1999. Comparison of the future population of high school students with the current geographical distribution of engineering students reveals a new dimension of the problem that lies ahead. In 1981 - 1982, half of the B.S. degrees in engineering nationally were awarded lay only 45 schools, all of them graduating more than 400 engineering students. Of those schools, about 60 percent are located in the North Central and Northeastern regions of the country, where population decreases are projected to be the most severe. Fifteen of the 45 colleges are in Massa- chusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, states in which the high school population will decrease an average of 40 percent between 1982 and 1993. Thus, these highly industrialized and often " high-tech" North Central and Northeastern areas could be severely affected by the projected demographic shifts.

OCR for page 12
14 ENGINEERING UNDER GRAD HATE ED UCATION Engineering colleges in the North Central and Northeastern regions must either recruit outside their regions, as some already do, or work intensively to increase the percentage of qualified regional high school graduates who apply for engineering programs. Admissions experience of independent and public institutions, with the exception of a very few national universities, shows that the vast majority of students attend a college within a 250-mile radius of their homes. Applications to Engineering Programs Engineering enrollments, when charted since World War II See Fig- ure 2J rise and fall appreciably and are almost independent of the high school population j see the key to the figure, which associates enroll- ment peaks and valleys with national forces). Enrollments between 1945 and 1982 responded to the perceived market for engineering man- power. These historical swings indicate considerable elasticity in the interest in engineering among potential college applicants. As shown in Figure 2, the current surge of undergraduate enrollment is explained in part lay a new factor in addition to the traditional source Male applicants), the pool now includes women, minorities, and additional foreign nationals. {Asian-American minorities have been strongly represented for many decades. ~ In 1975, 8.7 percent of college-bound high school seniors intended to pursue engineering, while in 1982 that number reached 14.4 percent. Of college-bound seniors in 1982 whose Scholastic Aptitude Test iSAT) scores were over 1000 j the top 30 percent of the total tested~,21 percent indicated that they intended to study engineering. If the existing appli- cant pool is to be maintained, that percentage of 21, assuming that it is evenly distributed, would have to reach about 35 percent in those regions where the high school population base will shrink by 40 per- cent. Nationwide, with a future high school applicant pool at 78 per- cent of its 1982 level, about 28 percent of college applicants will need to be interested in engineering programs for 1982 applicant levels to be . . mamtame( .. The Panel on Undergraduate Engineering Education recommends that, if the flow of engineering graduates is to be maintained despite majordemographic changes, a verysubstantial effort will be required to increase the number of high school students who are qualified and motivated to study engineering. Both the traditional sources and the increasingpool of women and minorities must be nurtured to maintain the present quality of engineering students.

OCR for page 12
UNDERGRAD DATE S TUDENTS 1 20,000 1 05,000 In 90,000 UJ ~75,000 z ~60,000 of 111 C) 45,000 Oh 30,000 1 5,000 _ ~1 _g I I `% I l I First-Year Enrollments / 10 / / BS Degrees :,,," .` _' D MS Degrees PhD Dearees 1945 1950 1955 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 YEAR 1. Returning World War I I veterans 2. Diminishing veteran pool and expected surplus of engineers 3. Korean War and increasing R& D expenditures 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Returning Korean War veterans Aerospace program cutbacks and economic recession Vietnam War and greater space expenditures Increased student interest in social-program careers Adverse student attitudes toward engineering, decreased space and defense expenditures, and lowered college attendance 9. Improved engineering job market, positive student attitudes toward engineering, and entry of nontraditional students (women, minori ties, and foreign nationals) 10. Diminishing 1 8-year-old pool A Manual on Graduate Study in Engineering issued, based on 1945 Committee Report chaired by L. E. Grinter B ASEE Evaluation Report recommends greater stress on mathematics and science and the engineering sciences. C ASEE Committee on the Development of Engineering Faculties recom- mends the doctorate for future engineering faculty. D ASEE Goals of Engineering Education recommends the master's de- gree for the majority of those who complete their undergraduate degree in the coming decade. 15 FIGURE 2 Engineering degrees and first-year enrollments: historical factors affecting engineering enrollments. SOURCE: LeBold and Sheridan ( 19861.

OCR for page 12
16 Influences on Admissions ENGINEERING UNDER GRAD UATE ED UCATION The engineering admissions process varies considerably among institutions between public and independent institutions and between large, public multiuniversities and public state colleges and among states. Highly selective engineering colleges have entering freshmen with median combined SAT scores in the 1200 to 1400 range. In many states, colleges of engineering are required to accept all high school graduates above a given rank in class or record on achievement tests. In states with good school systems, setting the class rank suffi- ciently high results in extremely well-qualified students. While the applications:admissions ratio is often taken as a measure of selectivity, a self-selection process is also at work in engineering education. That is, students who have a weak background in science and mathematics do not usually enter the admissions competition, so that almost all applicants possess the minimum requirement, which is sometimes as low as a 450 SAT score in mathematics. Furthermore, admissions standards can vary with the perceived size of the applicant pool. In periods of low interest in engineering, some schools lower their standards of admission in order to "fill the freshman class." In periods of high interest in engineering, many schools raise their admissions standards, thereby increasing their selectivity. Clearly, policy determi- nations and practices of admissions staff exert a strong influence on the numbers and quality of students entering engineering. Elasticity On a national or regional basis, the variety in types of institutions increases students' opportunity for access to engineering education. As long as at least some institutions have space, this diversity of opportu- nity gives the system elasticity. As the last 10 years have shown, with a relatively modest increase in the resources allocated to undergraduate education, this ability of the system to absorb additional students reached a factor of 2 before saturation. Transfer Students First-year enrollment is one path to engineering education; a second is the transfer student route. Again, the process varies among institu- tions. In some cases transfer students compensate for attrition during the first two years of engineering study. The size of this flow is charac- teristically in the range of 10 percent per year, although some colleges

OCR for page 12
UNDERGRAD HATE S TUDENTS 17 may admit as many as 30 percent transfer students each year. In gen- eral, the transfer process is more selective than that of freshman admis- sions. Experience shows that transfer students do as well as other engineering students. ~ Especially in the public sector, many states have established a feeder system whereby pre-engineering students begin in two-year programs or institutions and, if successful in those, transfer to upper-division engineering curricula. The number of such transfer students is essen- tially limited by the number of upper-division places available in given curricula. As cost factors become more critical, particularly for stu- dents, two-year programs will probably become major feeders to four- year engineering schools. Dual-degree programs were begun in the 1960s. Their major purpose has been to add a combined liberal arts/engineering dimension to higher education rather than to contribute to the central flow of under- graduate engineering manpower. These programs are usually of the "3 + 2" type: the student obtains both liberal arts and engineering degrees in five years. Dual-degree programs have been utilized to a limited extent to increase the entry of minority students and women into engineering. Overall, dual-degree programs have not produced a significant flow of engineering graduates because the demand has not been significant and because few of these programs dovetail effectively. Factors Affecting the Quality of High School Graduates Between 1978 and 1984, at least 20 comprehensive studies of U.S. school systems cited major deficiencies: loss of basic purpose, alo- sence of clearly identified goals, and low expectations of students. Most striking is their fundamental unanimity on the keynotes sounded in A Nation at Risk [Gardner et al., 1983), the 1983 report to the nation and the Secretary of Education by the National Commission on Excellence in Education. These studies present virtually conclusive evidence that, because of weaknesses in its educational system, our nation is dangerously at risk in several ways. For example, our technological supremacy erodes as other nations expand their own capacities. One threat to our ability to compete results from a shortage of skilled engineers and scientists and from a lack of scientific and mathematical literacy {Education Com- mission of the States' National Task Force, 1983~. Such literacy will lee * Davidson and Montgomery 119831 summarize 17 of these reports.

OCR for page 12
18 ENGINEERING UNDER GRAD UATE ED UCATION essential if citizens of this nation are to support a technologically advanced society. From 1964 to 1981, the percentage of high school students complet- ing courses in science and mathematics declined as follows: in biology from 80 to 77 percent, in chemistry from 34 to 32 percent, in general science from 61 to 37 percent, in algebra 1 from 76 to 64 percent, in geometry from 51 to 44 percent, and in algebra 2 from 35 to 31 percent {Adelman, 1983J. This loss of interest is alarming, considering that Japan and the Soviet Union recognize that world leadership depends on technological superiority. It has been said that "the technological bat- tle with the Japanese is really an industrial equivalent of the East-West arms race" Julian Gresser, quoted in Grayson, 1983. See also Stata, 1983J. Insufficient Time Commitment The United States has long depended on its schools to educate its citizens for world leadership. However, a minority of U.S. high school students study mathematics for three years, whereas other industrial- ized nations require all students to start mathematics {other than arithmetic orgeneralmathematicsJ, biology, physics, end geographyin grade 6. The class hours spent on these subjects in other industrialized countries is about 3 times that spent even by U.S. students who select four years of science and mathematics in secondary school Gardner et al., 1983:20J. Hurd {1982:2J found "that 93 percent of the seniors com- pleted one or more years of mathematics, 67 percent two years or more, and 34 percent three years." The consensus of the recent studies of schooling is that all students should have three years of mathematics; some studies recommend four years, at least for those who plan to attend college Third, 1982J. Only 41 percent of students in academic programs study science for three years in high school tend only 13 percent of general-studies stu- dents and 9 percent of vocational-studies studentsJ. The consensus among the studies referred to here is that all students should have three years of science, and some of the reports recommend four years of basic science courses for college preparation. Hurd {1982J finds students begin with biology and follow with chemistry ~37 percentJ and physics {19 percentJ; others "complete their three years of science with a selec- tion from biology 2, earth science, physiology, space science, aeronau- tics, oceanography, physical science, geology, ecology, environmental science, or from a host of one semester courses. " This jumble is what A Nation at Risk describes as curricula "homogenized, diluted, and dif

OCR for page 12
UNDERGRAD HATE S TUDENTS 19 fused to the point that they no longer have a central purpose. In effect, we have a cafeteria-style curriculum in which the appetizers and des- serts can easily be mistaken for the main courses" t Gardner et al., 1983: 18~. LowExpectations of Students The reports on U.S. school systems show that our nation's schools and colleges are not demanding enough of students. "Homework for high school seniors has decreased {two-thirds report less than 1 hour a night) and grades have risen, yet average student achievement has declined. In 13 States, students are given freedom to choose half or more of the units required for high school graduation. Given such freedom to choose the substance of their education, many students select less demanding personal service courses, such as bachelor liv- ing" [Gardneretal., 1983:19-20~. Under such conditions, College Board achievement scores in aca- demic areas such as English and physics have declined in recent years. Nearly 40 percent of 1 7-year-olds cannot draw inferences from written material, only one-fifth can write a persuasive essay, and only one-third can solve a mathematics problem requiring several steps. Science achievement scores of U.S. 17-year-olds as measured by national assessments of science in 1969, 1973, and 1977 have declined steadily Gardner et al., 1983~. The pattern of courses that high school students take and their low achievement are greatly influenced by college and university admis- sions requirements. Whatever the causes E.g., the growing intensity of competition for a declining pool of students or other influences, these requirements in many cases are so low that students are not prepared for college work: One-quarter of the mathematics courses in collegiate institutions are remedial {Gardner et al., 1983:8~. Nor are many high school graduates prepared for an occupation. Business and military leaders complain that without remedial work in reading, writing, spell- ing, and computation, many high school graduates cannot even begin the sophisticated training they need for their work. Lack of Student Interest in Science and Mathematics The list of reasons why so many students fail to master the skills they need for the study of science, mathematics, and other academic sub- jects grows with each analysis. The causes include lack of discipline in the classroom, overemphasis on socialization, automatic grade promo

OCR for page 12
20 ENGINEERING UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION lion, teacher disillusionment, tolerance of absenteeism, emphasis on educational opportunity without equal attention to quality, grade infla- tion, lowering of college entrance requirements, unfavorable study environments in the home, lack of homework, loss of public confi- dence in and support for schools, and unclear educational goals and policies. For whatever sociological or educational reasons, too many students lose interest in learning and simply evade it. U.S. students' dislike of science courses is acquired early-nearly half of them dislike science by the end of the third grade, and 79 percent by the eighth. The popularity of mathematics declines from a high of 48 percent in grade 3 to a low of 18 percent in grade 12. This loss of interest clearly affects the nation's pool of scientists and engineers, as shown, for example, in a study by Aldridge and Johnson ~ 1984J that traces the loss of scientific talent from the 4,170,000 members in the freshman high school class of 1977-1978: 302,400 of these students ~7.3 percents entered study of science and engineering Engineering 115,300~ as college freshmen in 1981-1982; an estimated 83,100, or 2 percent of the original high school class, would graduate in those fields {32,300 in engineering). At the graduate level, an estimated 0.4 percent of the freshman high school class of 1977-1978 ~16,680~ would earn M.S. degrees, and 0.1 percent 4,170 would earn doctorates in science and . . engmeermg. Of the total 71,470 engineering baccalaureates projected for 1985, 32,300 would be from the original pool of 1977- 1978 high school fresh- men. The remaining 39,170 would include approximately 13,000 for- eign nationals and 26,000 other Americans who had been out of high school for more than four years. The latter group comprises mostly transfer students and students who had left and returned to engineering programs. Of 32,000 M.S. degrees projected to be earned in 1987 in all fields of engineering, science, and mathematics, nearly 17,000 will be awarded to U.S. students who graduated from high school in 1981; 6,000 will be awarded to foreign nationals; and 9,000, to other Ameri- can students. Of the 7,700 Ph.D. degrees expected in these fields in 1989, 4,200 will go to students from the high school class of 1981; 2,300, toforeigu nationals; and 1,200, to Americana who did not pursue engineering or scientific studies continuously after high school gradua tion. One reason for the loss of such a high proportion of talent from the original high school pool is the inappropriateness of high school science and math courses for the 92.7 percent who will not become scientists or engineers. Current courses are often obsolete and of questionable value for the 7.3 percent who may do so, since these courses largely ignore the

OCR for page 12
UNDERGRAD HATE S TUDENTS 21 computer, modern electronics, and much of the new knowledge that has been generated so rapidly over the past 10 years. Present courses focus on pure science and are largely devoid of practical applications, technology, or the relevancy of science to society's problems, such as acid rain, nuclear wastes and disposal, or improper nutrition. Diminished Incen fives Although only implicitly stated in the literature, another reason for diminished interest in education is that students lack incentives to learn. Few of them, including some of the most talented, discover the pleasure of learning for its own sake. In the past, incentives for Ameri- can students included living up to parents' expectations, meeting teachers' expectations and receiving rewards for their efforts, and in some cases having the opportunity to attend college. Students now have little reason for developing the self-discipline to learn which the work ethic imbued in their Puritan or other immigrant forebears. The belief that education would guide their hard work to success was incul- cated in their parents, and that same conviction is evident today in many of the Oriental engineering students whose families insist on education as the road to success in America. Since incentives are not as strong as they once were, engineering societies and social agencies have attempted to provide them. The Junior Engineering Technical Society iTETSJ sponsors clubs, national team competitions, science fairs, and precollege programs. Other incentives programs are usually offered in inner-city environments, where educational problems are acute. These model programs, which include Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement tMESAJ in California; Philadelphia Regional Introduction for Minorities to Engi- neering jPRIMEJ in Philadelphia; and Massachusetts Pre-engineering Program for Minority Students [MassPepJ in Boston, offer encourage- ment and guidance to students who are talented in mathematics and science and who want to enrich their schooling. Such programs were designed to bring into engineering those underrepresented minorities who accept the challenge to education. They demonstrate efforts that might be made or adapted in all schools and systems to inspire the scholarship that is needed. MESA was one of the first model programs to state its goals, which included "Encouraging students from the target minority groups to acquire the academic skills they need to major in mathematics, engi- neering, and the physical sciences at a university; Promoting career awareness . . . and Striving to institutionalize the educational enrich

OCR for page 12
22 ENGINEERING UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION ment activities that prepare minority group students...." Its activities include tutoring; independent study groups; academic, university, and career counseling; and summer enrichment and employment. MESA offers scholarship incentive awards, and has high expectations in terms of student performance. MassPep in Boston offers a Saturday Lab Program supported by scien- tists, weekly club meetings to discuss technical issues and projects, and has conducted a successful summer program. The organization is planning to hold monthly assemblies of students and teachers for lec- tures, contests, and exchange of information. Its computerized records track students' academic and personal progress for use in counseling. The students involved in the program know individuals who care about and encourage their progress. Teacher Shortages The studies of U.S. schools referred to at the beginning of this section agree that there are too few qualified teachers of science and mathemat- ics. As indicated in A Nation at Risk "Gardner et al., 1983:22-23J, too many teachers come from the lowest quarter of their classes. Since about 41 percent of the time of elementary school teacher candidates is spent in education courses, less time is available for subject matter courses. Moreover, in 1981, 43 of 45 states had shortages of mathemat- ics teachers, 33 of these states reported critical shortages of earth sci- ence teachers, and all lacked physics teachers. Half of the newly employed mathematics, science, and English teachers are not qualified to teach these subjects. These shortages exist despite widespread pul:- licity about an oversupply of teachers. Many good students turn away from teaching because of the poor condition of the profession. The public is well aware of the problems of classroom management, including the burden of administrative as well as disciplinary duties. Furthermore, teachers lack control over such basic academic matters as curricular design and selection of text- books [Sizer, 1984J. * More personal detriments to undertaking a teach- ing career are the low pay and limited career line. If the low beginning salary and the national average salary of $17,000 per year after 12 years of teaching do not tempt math and science teachers to jump to industry, the limited career line often does. A teacher has roughly the same * The Sizer ( 19841 study examined high schools, lout the statement applies to school systems as well as to individual schools.

OCR for page 12
UNDERGRAD HATE S TUDENTS 33 research projects and intermittent teaching opportunities. Recognition of achievement motivates further achievement. In order to attack the faculty shortage problem by encouraging the best students to consider careers as engineering faculty members, the ASEE's Engineering Deans' Council has adopted the following policy statement: At least 1000 intelligent and highly motivated individuals with doctoral degrees in engineering will lie needed every year as faculty members in insti- tutions of higher learning in the United States. Charged with the critical responsibility of educating prospective engineers, these individuals must enjoy the challenges and satisfaction of teaching, the excitement of research at the very frontiers of knowledge and the freedom of self direction. The opportunities for a lifelong, productive, satisfying and rewarding career are unlimited. * In addition, the Deans' Council has prepared an attractive brochure for use by faculty and students to encourage the lest students to seek academic careers. Financial Considerations The main reason cited for the decision to forgo graduate study is the substantial difference between graduate stipends and industrial sala- ries. One 1980 survey found that the average annual, part-time salary of graduate assistants was $4, 200, as compared with $24,000 reported for full-time, entry-level jobs of B.S. graduates at that time. Such a differ- ential results in lost income that takes many years to recover. Conse- quently, graduate stipends need to be increased to at least half of the starting salaries of B. S. graduates. With regard to those who ultimately pursue an academic career, American Association of Engineering Soci- eties [AAESJ salary survey data {"Mean Salaries of Engineers in Indus- try and Academia: 1983" J show that the salaries of full professors ton a 12-month basis J compare favorably with salaries of their counterparts in industry. With the possibility of additional earnings from summer work and consulting, an academic career is in a strong competitive position. Nevertheless, academic salaries for assistant and associate professors are a key problem and need to be improved in many institu- tions in order to be competitive. ~ l'ol~cy statement endorsed in January 1984 by the Executive Committee of the Engineering Deans' Council, American Society for Engineering Education.

OCR for page 12
34 ENGINEERING UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION The Consortium on Financing Higher Education has studied the question of whether undergraduate and/or graduate student loan debt accumulation is a disincentive to the pursuit of graduate education. Their most recent study ~ 1983~ shows that, except for its effect on some minority students, undergraduate educational loan debt burden has essentially no effect on the decision to pursue postbaccalaureate study. The Panel on Undergraduate Engineering Education recommends that, in addition to support forgraduate education, engineering schools and professional societies create and maintain an active campaign to emphasize the advantages of an academic career. Industry, govern- ment, engineering schools, and professional societies must encourage and support masters-level programs, combined B. S. -M. S. programs, and release time to enlarge and develop thepool of potential faculty. The Role of Minorities: Present and Future The Minority Share in Engineering The minority engineer is one of the scarcest professionals in Ameri- can society. In 1970 blacks, Hispanics, and native Americans made up about 2.4 percent of the U.S. engineering work force; lay 1982 that percentage had doubled. Percentages of the total U.S. population for these minorities were 16.1 percent in 1970 and 25.2 percent in 1980. At the opposite extreme are Asian/Pacific Islanders. The 1980 census showed this group made up 2.7 percent of the U.S. population, while their 1983 proportion of the U.S. engineering work force was 4.8 per- cent. Thus, Asian/Pacific Islanders' 9.2 percent of the intraminority population in 1980 provided 50.9 percent of the minority engineering presence in the work force in 1983. Comparable percentages jintraminority population/engineering presences for blacks, Hispan- ics, and native Americans were 50.5/20.4, 27.2/25.8, and 1.5/5.4, respectively. Table 1 shows that, overall, the potential talent for engi- neering within a substantial part of the population has remained dor mant. The statistics in Table 1 and those from other sources show progress, but not nearly enough. Clearly, except for Asian-Americans these par- ticular minorities have not achieved representative participation in engineering. The profession will need talent from these minorities as well as from other sources to keep abreast of technological change as demographic trends and weak educational practices shrink the pool of talent. Finally, minority engineers can be an important American

OCR for page 12
35 ~7 C~ ._ ._ C~W . ._ C~ ._ C~ o o _1 ._ .- o . ~ 4= ._ v . - 4= 5 C-w C~ C~ C - w ~W C~ ._ C) ._ L~ ~o o~ C) _, z ~o o~ C~ . z o\ C Z o\ ~ Z C~ ~ C~ O oo ~ G~ C) oo C~ ~ ~ oo O O ~ ~ O o O O O O O O O O O O O O ~) O ~ O Cx ~ C~ O X ~ ~ _ ~ ~ O O ~ O . . . . . . O ~ O C~ ~ O o O O C~ o - ~ ~ O C~ ~ O . . . . . . O ~ ~ O o ~_ C~ C~ ~ oo C~ _ _ _ ~ O . . .. .. C~ ~ 0 4O ~ O o C~ ~ ~ ~ oo ~ oO G~ ~ Cx X ~ ~ O _ _ _ _ _ ~ ~ ~ G~ ~ O . . . . ~ ~ ~ ~ C~ O t_ ~O 1_ c :: ce = V- V ~ C) X~ C~ o ._ 4 - C~ z C) 4_ o C) C~ Ct 4 - v 4 - o - C) ._ o ._ C~ ._ o (: v o ._ =' Ct ~ =~ ._ v - ~ C) C~ ~ ~ C) 4- -= 0 ~ CC ~ C~ 0 0 C) a~ ~ Ct V ~ ~V 0 C) V C) 0 ~ C) U) 0 C~ C) C) 5 V ._ C~ - C~ 4 - o 4 - a~ C~ ~s Cx C~ o o _ ._ V 4 - ~ -t - V o .. ~ C~ C.) , ~ 'V =; ~ ._ O V C~ U:

OCR for page 12
36 ENGINEERING UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION resource for international relationships and Third World development; if well educated, they might become the most effective of our nation's representatives to the Third World. Loss of Interestin Science andMath The greatest barrier to increasing the pool of talent for engineering is students' loss of interest in science and mathematics at all stages in their education. As indicated earlier in this chapter, by graded, slightly more than half of all students show an interest in science, and 48 percent are interested in math. By grade 8, 21 percent like science, and by grade 12 only 18 percent like math. Furthermore, a rational longitu- dinal study ~Berryman, 1983:66, 68~ of the high school class of 1972 showed that only 37 percent of the males and 30 percent of the females originally enrolled in a science field had obtained a B.A. degree in science or were enrolled in a science field by 1976. The policy implications of such statistics as those cited above are [1J the need to develop strategies to increase the size of the initial scientific/mathematical pool of minorities before and during high school and j2J the need to decrease attrition from the pool at every stage of the educational process. While individual intellectual development cannot be programmed, schools can determine the amount of time that students spend on different subjects, the quality of their curricula, and the performance standards for grade promotion and high school gradua- tion. In these areas of control, public elementary and secondary schools do not serve many children well in science and mathematics. The deficiencies matter most for those youth {i.e., females and minoritiesJ who do not have compensating resources and encouragement outside of~school. Blacks are more likely than any other group to leave the educational pipeline, except between the baccalaureate and the master's degree. Hispanics drop out more frequently than do whites at each stage in the pipeline through college entry. This may result in part from their immi- gration from countries with different school systems or from family mobility. Their dropout rate is average or lower than average after college entry. American Indians have a very high dropout rate between entering college and earning the B.A. degree. These different patterns imply that the needs of subgroups vary at different points in the pipe- line. The dropout rate for another minority group, Asian-Americans, is lower at each stage than that of any other group, including whites; the Asian-American share of the pool increases at each level.

OCR for page 12
UNDERGRAD UATE S TUDENTS Asian-Americans 37 Asian-Americans are the most inclined of any group to pursue quan t~tat~ve stuc ties: In 1979, a randomly selected Asian-American was 17 times more likely to earn a quantitative Ph.D. than a randomly selected black from the appropri- ate age group.... Asian-Americans chose Quantitative studies] at almost twice the t 16% ] national average; whites and Hispanics, at; about the national average; American Indians, at about 80 percent of the national average; and blacks, at about 60 percent of the national average. tBerryman, 1983:494 Asian-American college freshmen are clearly high achievers from high achieving families. They have the highest percent of second generation col- lege a third, for example, have at least one parent with graduate education; the highest average high school performance {B+~; and the highest average educational expectations three-quarters plan a postgraduate degree.... Forty-eight percent attend universities, and of those 60 percent are in the most selective universities. Thus, almost a third of all Asian-Americans in postsecondary institutions are in the most selective universities, and another 13 percent are in the nation's most selective four year colleges. (Berryman, 1983:94-951 Because of their achievement, Asian-Americans have a higher percent , . . . . . . . . age ot participation in englneenug than any other group. Barriers to EntryInto Engineering With regard to quantitative study, the major barriers to non-Asian- Americans' entry into the engineering profession are insufficient prep- aration in mathematics and science, little awareness of and motivation toward engineering, lack of money, lack of self-confidence, and per- sonal problems {Landis, 1982~. To overcome the lack of academic preparation, it is necessary "to identify promising students early in their academic careers, give them appropriate guidance in choosing a program of study, and ensure the availability of quality curriculum and instruction" Richardson, 1979:7 ~ . The lack of a math sequence and of other precollege courses is "compounded for the inner city student by the familiar problems of inadequately informed teachers and guidance counselors, absence of role models, unengaging curriculum, and an atmosphere not particu- larly supportive of academic achievement" Theodore Lobman, quoted in Richardson, 1979:7~. Students need to perceive their educational experiences as coherent and continuous over many years to develop their academic aspirations and behavior.

OCR for page 12
38 ENGINEERING UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION To overcome the lack of information, engineering as a profession must loe presented clearly to students and their parents. Minority indi- viduals have generally tended to enter professions in which they work alone, such as medicine or law, or in which they work with other minorities, for example, teaching and social service. Prospective stu- dents and their parents need to lie convinced of the marketability, the personal, human, social, and economic attractiveness of science and engineering careers. Knowing that financial aid is available for success- ful students is another strong motivator for families without adequate funds for education {Richardson, 1979:5~. Attrition is a greater problem for non-Asian-American minorities than for white students in college. Minorities need support systems: counseling, especially lay minority faculty members; tutoring by fac- ulty or students; short courses in specific techniques; study groups; videotaped instruction; and modules for self-paced study. They some- times need to be given flexibility in their academic progress through "stretch-out" programs, reduced course loads, and leaves of absence, although, of course, they must ultimately be capable of meeting all of the kinds of demands that will be made of them and their fellow grad- uates as engineers {Richardson, 1979:11~. Institutional factors can also discourage minorities. For example, minority students may have great difficulty adjusting to the environ- ment of a predominantly white institution. Elitist attitudes, poor teaching, and a general insensitivity to students affect the performance of all students but may have an especially negative effect on minority students. Many students, especially those who commute, find the institutional environment impersonal, and they often feel isolated and even alienated. Minority students can mistakenly attribute their sense of isolation and alienation to being in a minority, not realizing that other students experience similar feelings ; Landis, 19 8 2: 7 14, 7 1 8 ~ . Minority students need a special kind of support to ease their transi- tion from high school to college. The college environment is demand- ing, fast paced academically, less structured than high school, and socially permissive at the very time that studies require a new single- mindedness and intensity of purpose. Some colleges offer summer pro- grams to introduce minority students to collegiate study of calculus, physics, chemistry, and the humanities. Support of Minorities More than one organization is focusing its efforts on the precollege level junior and senior high school to identify minority persons

OCR for page 12
UNDERGRAD HATE S TUDENTS 39 with the apparent aptitude to succeed in engineering. Minority Engi- neering Education Effort, Inc., provides the names of such students to colleges and universities. The National Society of Black Engineers invites students and their parents to a spring event to discuss engineer- ing, co-op and summer job opportunities, and the educational demands of college. Consortiums in densely populated areas use a wide variety of com- munication methods, including classroom demonstrations, career days, science fairs, and field trips to engineering schools and industrial sites. Minority engineers and minority engineering students who work with secondary school students act as role models by introducing the students to the field of engineering and the methods and products of technology {Richardson, 1979:6~. The centers for these activities are often connected with a university {e.g., Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement {MESA) with the University of California at Berkeley and schools in other states, and METCON with Howard Uni- versity in Washington, D.C. ~ as well as with staff and resources of local industries and government agencies. They offer Saturday morning and/or afterschool programs, laboratory study, weekly club meetings, monthly seminars of all participants, summer programs of study and summer employment, math and science contests, and scholarships. At the collegiate level, the Minority Engineering Program {MEP) operates statewide from the same Berkeley center as MESA. It offers a full program of assistance with matriculation, academic counseling, particular emphasis on orientation and adjustment to the institutional environment, a concerted motivational program, the development of a supportive environment, a component for building study skills, a com- prehensive and accessible tutoring program, close monitoring of stu- dent progress, personal counseling, a mechanism for social interaction, and career development. MEP builds a strong sense of belonging by arranging various exercises to help students get to know each other and through which they learn to value each other's help. Exercises are organized, for example, to develop study skills, to teach students how to use their time effectively, and to motivate them by study of career possibilities. Finally, MEP places students in summer jobs in which they gain first-hand knowledge about engineering and the environment that engineers work in, and also develop confidence that they can work in that environment Landis, 1982:714, 715, 717) . Education of minorities is supported in part by efforts of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering {NACME), which enlists substantial funding from fewer than 50 companies. A survey of NACME scholars ~LeBold et al., 1982) found that 96 percent of the

OCR for page 12
40 ENGINEERING UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION graduates indicated that they were planning some type of postbacca- laureate graduate education. In order to retain more minorities in engi- neering, the graduates recommended more tutoring, financial aid, counseling and advising, and improved precollege preparation [Richardson, 1979:13~. Standards of Performance Special attention for minority students is necessary to help them overcome barriers to the expression of their talent, but it must not mislead them about the professional demands they face. Lindon E. Saline, manager of the Professional Development Operation of General Electric, prepared a list of key conditions of employment for profession- als from minority groups [Richardson, 1979:14, 15, 22J: 1. Hire minority engineering graduates only if they are qualified for real tasks, not for purposes of show or tokenism. 2. Minority engineers, in accepting the opportunity to compete, should know their responsibilities and be measured and rewarded fairly. 3. Minority engineers must be expected to develop new technical, economic, and political knowledge to apply to evolving design, produc- tion, and application needs through new interpersonal and process skills. 4. Engineers must have the flexibility and resilience to cope with uncertainty and change in engineering employment. 5. All parties must have patience and persistence to see the minority engineering effort through to a successful conclusion. And, finally, Saline states that we need a national initiative to 1. Establish long-range goals and objectives For attracting minori- ties to engineering education and practice]; 2. Accelerate expansion of the pool of prepared, motivated minority high school students; 3. Identify localities where programs are needed; develop strategies, both general and specific; and assign responsibilities; 4. Obtain adequate funding; and 5. Develop continuous monitoring of program progress and effec tlveness. The one-fourth of our population that now provides less than 6 per- cent of our engineers namely, the black, Hispanic, and native Ameri- can segments of the population could significantly enlarge the pool of

OCR for page 12
UNDERGRAD HATE S TUDENTS 41 engineering talent. Of even more importance, such an increase would expand the portion of Americans who participate in their nation's most important source of power and individual well-being its economic life. The Panel on Undergraduate Engineering Education recommends that extensive efforts by schools, companies, and engineering societies are needed to bring more minorities into engineering. For example, precollege programs such as those operating in a few major cities and regions of the country must be expanded and funded to prepare and motivate minority students to pursue college study and careers in engi- neenng. References and Bibliography Adelman, Clifford. 1983. "Devaluation, Diffusion and the College Connection: A Study of High School Transcripts, 1964-81, " in National Science Board Commission on Pre-college Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology, EducatingAmer- icans for the 21 st Century (Washington, D. C.: National Institute of Education) . Aldridge, Bill G., and Karen L. Johnson. 1984. "The Crisis in Science Education," Journal of College Science Teaching, 14(Sept./Oct.~:22-23. Arbeiter, Solomon. 1978-1984. College-Bound Seniors New York: College Entrance Examination Board). Berryman, Sue E. 1983. Who Will Do Science? lNew York: The Rockefeller Founda- tion). Boyer, Ernest L. 1983. High School: A Report on American Secondary Education (New York: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teachingl. Cass, James, and Max Birnbaum. 1983. Comparative Guide to American Colleges, 11th ed. New York: Harper & Row). Consortium on Financing Higher Education.1983. Beyond the Baccalaureate: A Study of Seniors'Post-College Plans at Selected Institutions, With Particular Focus on the Effects of Financial Considerations on Graduate School Attendance (Cambridge, Mass.: COFHE~. Davidson, Jack L., and Margaret Montgomery. 1983. An Analysis of Reports on the Status of Education in America: Findings, Recommendations, and Implications (Tyler, Tex.: Tyler Independent School Districts. ED 240182. Available from Educa- tional Resources Information Center, Washington, D. C. Education Commission of the States' National Task Force on Education for Economic Growth. 1983. Action for Excellence (Denver, Colo.: Education Commission of the States). Engineering Manpower Commission. 1983. Women in Engineering ~Washington, D. C.: American Association of Engineering Societies) . Engineering Manpower Commission. N.d. Data on enrollment of women in engineer- ing programs. Washington, D.C.: American Association of Engineering Societies. Gardner, David P., et al. 1983. A Nation at Risk. Report of the National Commission on Excellence in Education {Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office1. Grayson, Lawrence P.1983. "Leadership or Stagnation: A Role for Technology in Math- ematics, Science and Engineering," Engineering Education 73(February):356.

OCR for page 12
42 ENGINEERING UNDER GRAD HATE ED UCATION Greenfield, Lois, Elizabeth Halloway, and Linda Remus. 1981. "Retaining Academi- cally Proficient Students in Engineering," Engineering Education 71(April~:727- 730. Hurd, Paul DeHart. 1982. "State of Pre-college Education in Mathematics and Sci- ence." Paper preparer! for National Convocation on Pre-college Education in Mathe- matics and Science, May 12-13, National Academy of Sciences and National Acad- emy of Engineering, Washington, D.C. The Institute. 1984. News supplement to IEEE Spectrum (March) . Jagacinski, C. M., and W. K. LeBold.19$ 1. "A Comparison of Men and Women Under- graduates," EngineeringEducation 72 (December): 213-220. Janna, William S. 1981. "The Enrollment Crunch: A National Survey," Engineering Education 7 1 (April): 706. Landis, Raymond B. 1982. "Retaining Minority Engineering Students," Engineering Education 72(April):714-718. Lantz, A. 1982. "Women Engineers: Critical Mass, Social Support, and Satisfaction," Engineering Education 72 (April): 731 - 737. LeBold, William K., and Patrick J. Sheridan.1986. "Trends in Engineering Enrollments and Degrees Granted. " Appendix B in Panel on Engineering Infrastructure Diagram- ming and Modeling, Engineering Infrastructure Diagramming and Modeling ~Wash- ington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1986). LeBold, William K., Donna J. LeBold, and Benson E. Pennick. 1982. "Minority Engi- neering Graduates: A Follow-up Study of NACME Scholars, " Engineering Education 72(April): 722ff. McConnell, William R., and Norman Kaufman. 1984. High School Graduates: Projec- tions for the Fifty States (1982-2000) (Boulder, Colo.: Western Interstate Commis- sion for Higher Education). Porter, Ralph C. N.d. Address by President of the National Commission for Coopera- tive Education. Purkey, Stuart C., and Marshall S. Smith. 1982. "Too Soon to Cheer? Synthesis of Research on Effective Schools, " Educational Leadership 40 "December) 3: 64- 69. Quick, P., and S. Malcom. 1983. Minority Women in Science (National Network of Minority Women in Science). Reyes-Guerra, David, and Alan M. Fischer. 1982. Peterson~s Guide to Undergraduate Engineering Study (Princeton, N.J.: Peterson's Guides). Richardson,AlfredL.1979.InBuildingtheMultiplierEffect.CommitteeonMinorities in Engineering, Assembly of Engineering, National Research Council (Washington, D. C.: National Academy of Sciences) . Sizer, Theodore E. ~Chairman~.1984. A Study of High Schools, National Association of Secondary School Principals and National Association of Independent Schools. Horace~s Compromise: The Dilemma of an American High School (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin) . Smith, Karl A., David W. Johnson, and Roger T. Johnson. 1981. "Structuring Learning Goals to Meet the Goals of Engineering Education," Engineering Education 72(December) :221-226. Stata, Ray. 1983. "The Engineering Education Crisis," New England Business (May 16) :20ff. Walker, E. A. (Chairman). 1968. Goals of Engineering Education: Final Report of the Goals Committee [Washington, D. C.: American Society for Engineering Education) .

OCR for page 12
~D ~^ ~ T~! 43 Wilson,}ames^1977.~oz~Co~~1jv~uc~bon-~[jonQj~SsCsS . PrcpaIed for the Office of Planning, Budgeting and Evaluation, U.S. Deparr ment of Education. Wilson, fames ad, and Dana Einstein. 1982. ~n [~]oycr Desc#tio~ of ~ odd [~]o~r Code Education Program {Boston: Northeastern University). ^~n ~d as lo Scj~nc~ ~d Em. 1984 Washington, D.C.: Nadonal Science Foundation). women in Engineering. 1983. Notes prepared for Advisory Committee to Assistant Director for Engineering, National Science Foundation. Washington, D. C., }ply.