A Retrospective on Undergraduate Engineering Success for Underrepresented and First-Year Students
Stephen Roberts, Fazil Najafi, Curtis Taylor
2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings
Civil Engineering and Coastal Engineering. He has published and presented more than 300 refereed publications. He has received numerous awards including a Senior Fulbright scholarship award, teaching awards, best paper awards, community service awards, and admission as an Eminent Engineer into Tau Beta Pi. His research on passive radon-resistant new residential building construction adapted in HB1647 building code of Florida Legislature. Najafi is a member of numerous professional societies and
... has served on many committees and programs, and continuously attends and presents refereed papers at international, national, and local professional meetings and conferences. Lastly, Najafi attends courses, seminars, and workshops, and has developed courses, videos and software packages during his career. His areas of specialization include transportation planning, Engineering and management, legal aspects, construction contract administration, Renewable Energy and public works. Abstract According to the National Science Board, an increase in the admission of students from underrepresented populations will be needed to improve current enrollment trends at institutions of higher education. In particular, studies show that enrollment, retention, and graduation rates of engineering students from underrepresented populations (i.e., women, ethnic minorities) have historically been lower than those of other student populations. In addition, studies suggest students from underrepresented populations face unique and amplified issues that impede their persistence and degree completion. These impediments can include inadequate K-12 preparation, social isolation on campus and other challenges related to their successful transition into the university. Over the years, many strategies have been implemented in efforts to address these challenges. These strategies have included peer counseling, faculty, and corporate mentoring, targeted academic support programs, need-based financial assistance, centralized academic advising, and student transition support. The projected shortcoming of students completing the degree program create an urgent need for diversity within the field; it is critical to increase efforts to provide first-year and underrepresented students with the academic, social and transition support needed to promote their success. The purpose of this research is to introduce the Successful Transition and Enhanced Preparation for Undergraduates Program (STEPUP) as a case study intervention to increase student success in engineering. The STEPUP program can serve as a model to assist institutions in the development of a comprehensive, step-by-step process to improve the recruitment, motivation, and retention of underrepresented student populations (USP). STEPUP was established at the University of Florida's College of Engineering twenty-five years ago and has demonstrated great promise and success retaining first-year students in engineering. The STEPUP program model includes parameterized engineering related courses, experiential learning activities, and teaching methodologies. The primary objectives of the program include 1). Increasing student success in transitioning into the university/college, 2). Developing experiential learning programs that promote student professional development and, 3). Retaining students within the major until graduation.