HOUSTON-The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and ExxonMobil recently honored three universities with the 2012 Impact Award for their efforts in retaining underrepresented minority students in engineering programs.
Michigan State University, University of Houston and University of Maryland – College Park were each awarded $10,000 from ExxonMobil and NSBE during an event held at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. NSBE salutes these outstanding academic institutions for their success in keeping Black, Latino and other underrepresented minority students in engineering,” said Mack. “There is an urgent need for more skilled workers in science, technology, engineering and math fields; the United States cannot afford to continue losing two-thirds of these students to other majors, as it is doing now. These universities are among the few that not only understand the urgency of solving the retention problem in engineering, but are also creative and determined in coming up with solutions.”
The Impact Award was established in 2011 by ExxonMobil and NSBE to honor and recognize collegiate efforts to attract minority students to and retain them in engineering disciplines. Additionally, each program is recognized for its ability to be easily replicated and shared across the nation through NSBE. The need to encourage minority students toward engineering degrees is critical if U.S. employers hope to keep up with workforce demands. According to the U.S. Census Bureau 2010 Statistical Abstract, Latinos make up 16.3 percent and African-Americans comprise 12.6 percent of the U.S. population, but only 6.2 and 5 percent respectively of the engineering workforce.
University of Houston’s The Cullen College of Engineering actively seeks to close higher-education gaps in student participation and student success in science, technology, engineering and math fields through the Program for Mastery in Engineering Studies (PROMES, pronounced “Promise”). Student success strategies include cohorting new students into first-year courses, providing sophomores with peer-led supplemental learning in support of gatekeeper engineering and individualized academic advising. Formal and informal mentoring is also utilized in addition to ongoing personal and professional development opportunities through seminars and industry mentoring for upperclassmen.