Engaging Underrepresented Community College Students in Engineering: A Model of Collaboration between Two-year and Four-year Institutions
2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings
Wenshen Pong received his Ph.D. degree in civil/structural engineering from SUNY, Buffalo, in 1994. He is currently a professor of civil engineering in the SFSU School of Engineering. His research interests focus on structural control and earthquake engineering. Pong has published more than 60 refereed journal or conference proceeding articles since he joined SFSU. Pong has received funding supported by the NSF, NASA, Department of Education, CSU, and private sectors. Overall, Pong has brought
... , Pong has brought more than $2.2 million of funding to SFSU and has participated in grants of more than $8 million as a PI or Co-PI. Dr. Abstract Cañada College, a federally designated Hispanic-Serving community college in California's Silicon Valley attracts a large number of students from underrepresented groups in engineering. Although many of these students enter with high levels of interest in engineering, their success and transfer rates have been low primarily due to low levels of preparation for college-level work, especially in math, resulting in years of additional remedial coursework. To keep these students engaged and motivated towards achieving their academic goals, Cañada College's Engineering Department collaborated with San Francisco State University School of Engineering to develop the Creating Opportunities for Minorities in Engineering, Technology, and Science (COMETS) program. Building on a previously successful collaboration in developing a two-week Summer Engineering Institute for incoming engineering students, the COMETS program funded by NASA through the Curriculum Improvements Partnership Award for the Integration of Research (CIPAIR) program includes a number of strategies developed to enhance the success of underrepresented community college students in engineering. To increase student engagement and success in foundational math and engineering courses, contextualized teaching approaches that incorporate NASA-related content as hands-on activities and projects are developed. A ten-week summer research internship program specifically designed for community college students has also been developed to provide research opportunities on various engineering topics including performance-based earthquake engineering, circuit design for biomedical applications, and embedded systems design. Additionally, a group of community college students are selected to participate in year-long upper-division and senior design courses at San Francisco State University to help develop skills and attributes needed to succeed in a four-year engineering program. Results from the first year of implementation of the program show success in achieving program objectives as evidenced by positive student responses to the curriculum enhancements, the quality of the results of student research activities, the overwhelming positive faculty evaluation of student performance both in the summer internship program and in the upper-division courses, and the encouraging student feedback on the various program components and activities. The partnership between Cañada College and San Francisco State University previously established through the Summer Engineering Institute and strengthened through the COMETS program has the potential to serve a model of collaboration between a community college and a four-year engineering program to increase the participation and improve the success of underrepresented students in the engineering profession.