Saturday, February 18, 2017
Exhibit Hall (Hynes Convention Center)
Katie Seely-Gant, Energetics Technology Center, St. Charles, MD
Background: Many colleges of engineering have implemented programs to increase minority recruitment and retention in engineering, often referred to as Minority Engineering Programs (MEPs). These programs have various features such as tuition and book scholarships, research experiences, mentoring, tutoring, psycho-social supports for the transition to college, and community building, among others. Methods:We perform institutional-level analysis to answer the following research questions: 1) to what extent do institutions with MEPs produce proportionately more BS degrees awarded to underrepresented minorities? and 2) how do program structure and features of MEPs impact degree production of underrepresented minority students? The overall research design uses archival records about MEP programs to develop independent variables capturing dimensions of institutional structure as well as MEP programmatic features. Our dependent variables—rate of change of degrees awarded to underrepresented minority students—were developed using data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. We analyzed data for 50 institutions that partnered with the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), since such institutions have made a concrete commitment to diversity in engineering. Additionally, we examined the issue of intersectionality by looking at differences within ethnic and sex categories simultaneously. Preliminary Results: Initial results find a negative correlation between the rate of change for minority student engineering degree production and the presence of a MEP. There was a stronger correlation in the relative rate of change and the presence of professional society chapters such as the Society for Women and Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers. Rates of change varied greatly between the NACME partner institutions. Relative growth of BSEs to underrepresented minority category women was 0.97, while for men it was 2.17. Overall the change in the number of BSE degrees awarded at the 50 NACME institutions was predominately associated with an increase in the number of BSEs awarded to men. Conclusions: While minority representation rates are rising in U.S. postsecondary engineering programs, there is not a clear correlation to MEPs, alone. Stronger correlations between representation and the presence of professional society chapters indicates a need for further research into on-campus supports and their relationship to minority student success in engineering. Further analyses will examine which MEP features are most efficacious.