skip to main content

Title: Professional Preparation of Underrepresented Minority PhD's and Post-Docs for a Career in Engineering Academia
In engineering, women, racial and ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities are classified as underrepresented minorities. Although strides have been made at the undergraduate level, diversity in faculty and academic administration positions still lags. This paper will present our approach and preliminary results of a National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored collaborative project to broaden the participation of underrepresented engineering minorities in engineering academia by providing participants with an improved skill set for entry into a faculty position. This project, comprised of a two-week intensive summer professional preparation training in conjunction with year-long activities, built upon the findings of a previous NSF 1.5-day workshop. The specific goals of the project include: 1. increase the awareness of what is "needed" to be an assistant professor; 2. quantify the specific areas PhD students and post-docs identified they need the most assistance with; 3. increase participant knowledge on effective STEM undergraduate learning;
4. advance the awareness and skills pertaining to curriculum development, delivery and assessment;
5. enhance the establishment of a research career; and 6. increase participant networking opportunities. Achievement of these goals will yield a more diverse and better prepared set of engineering educators, leading to better-equipped engineers entering the workforce. The first summer intensive more » professional preparation had 12 participants from the host institution, universities in the same geographical regions as the host, and from the collaborating institutions. Seventy-five percent of the ACADEME (Advancing Career in Academics with Diversity and Mentorship in Engineering) Fellows strongly agreed that the summer training content was useful for his/her professional development and 100% agreed that they would recommend the program to their peers. In addition to providing the assessment results from the first summer professional training, this paper includes recommendations from ACADEME Fellows for enhancing future summer sessions, results of a survey of a non-cohort group, lessons learned from recruiting, and the most effective activities during the academic year. « less
Authors:
Award ID(s):
1734822
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10059920
Journal Name:
CoNECD ASEE
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Global competition, changes in manufacturing/automation and desire for more sophisticated technology has increased the demand of graduates in STEM fields. Although the graduation of technically competent individuals with diverse backgrounds can help the US regain its competitive advantage, a large percentage of the population is left untapped. In engineering, women, racial and ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities are classified as underrepresented minorities. In addition to the disparity in industry, diversity in faculty and academic administration positions lags, which can marginalize or prevent full participation of underrepresented groups graduating in engineering disciplines. This paper will provide a brief overview ofmore »our approach and update of a National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored collaborative project to broaden the participation of underrepresented engineering minorities in engineering academia by providing participants with an improved skill set for entry into a faculty position. The project has completed three, two-week summer intensive professional trainings that provided participants with skills for entry into a faculty position and recently started the third year of mentoring. The first summer intensive professional preparation was held at The University of Akron and had 13 ACADEME (Advancing Career in Academics with Diversity and Mentorship in Engineering) Fellows from The University of Akron, universities in the same geographical region, and from the collaborating institutions. Modifications to the advertising approach were successful; yielding applicants from across the country and increased participation. The second summer professional preparation held at the University of Houston had 27 ACADEME Fellows while the third training held at Mississippi State University had 25 ACADEME Fellows. This paper highlights the assessment results from the three professional trainings, includes details as to which project activities have worked, and first-hand accounts of how the program benefited Fellows securing academic positions.« less
  2. Global competition, changes in manufacturing/automation and desire for more sophisticated technology has increased the demand of graduates in STEM fields. Although the graduation of technically competent individuals with diverse backgrounds can help the US regain its competitive advantage, a large percentage of the population is left untapped. In engineering, women, racial and ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities are classified as underrepresented minorities. In addition to the disparity in industry, diversity in faculty and academic administration positions lags, which can marginalize or prevent full participation of underrepresented groups graduating in engineering disciplines. This paper will provide a brief overview ofmore »our approach and update of a National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored collaborative project to broaden the participation of underrepresented engineering minorities in engineering academia by providing participants with an improved skill set for entry into a faculty position. The project has completed three, two-week summer intensive professional trainings that provided participants with skills for entry into a faculty position and recently started the third year of mentoring. The first summer intensive professional preparation was held at The University of Akron and had 13 ACADEME (Advancing Career in Academics with Diversity and Mentorship in Engineering) Fellows from The University of Akron, universities in the same geographical region, and from the collaborating institutions. Modifications to the advertising approach were successful; yielding applicants from across the country and increased participation. The second summer professional preparation held at the University of Houston had 27 ACADEME Fellows while the third training held at Mississippi State University had 25 ACADEME Fellows. This paper highlights the assessment results from the three professional trainings, includes details as to which project activities have worked, and first-hand accounts of how the program benefited Fellows securing academic positions.« less
  3. Global competition, changes in manufacturing/automation and desire for more sophisticated technology has increased the demand of graduates in STEM fields. Although the graduation of technically competent individuals with diverse backgrounds can help the US regain its competitive advantage, a large percentage of the population is left untapped. In engineering, women, racial and ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities are classified as underrepresented minorities. In addition to the disparity in industry, diversity in faculty and academic administration positions lags, which can marginalize or prevent full participation of underrepresented groups graduating in engineering disciplines. This paper will provide a brief overview ofmore »our approach and update of a National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored collaborative project to broaden the participation of underrepresented engineering minorities in engineering academia by providing participants with an improved skill set for entry into a faculty position. The project has completed three, two-week summer intensive professional trainings that provided participants with skills for entry into a faculty position and recently started the third year of mentoring. The first summer intensive professional preparation was held at The University of Akron and had 13 ACADEME (Advancing Career in Academics with Diversity and Mentorship in Engineering) Fellows from The University of Akron, universities in the same geographical region, and from the collaborating institutions. Modifications to the advertising approach were successful; yielding applicants from across the country and increased participation. The second summer professional preparation held at the University of Houston had 27 ACADEME Fellows while the third training held at Mississippi State University had 25 ACADEME Fellows. This paper highlights the assessment results from the three professional trainings, includes details as to which project activities have worked, and first-hand accounts of how the program benefited Fellows securing academic positions.« less
  4. Improving undergraduate STEM teaching for diverse students is dependent to some extent on increasing the representation of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and women in the ranks of faculty in engineering departments. However, new faculty members, whether they had postdoctoral training or not, report that they were not adequately prepared for academia. To address this need, a professional development program was developed for underrepresented doctoral and postdoctoral students, which focused on various strategies to be successful in teaching, research and service aspects of academic positions. The program included an intensive two-week summer session, with follow-up mentoring during themore »academic year, and was conducted from 2017 to 2020 with three cohorts of fellows recruited from across the country. To evaluate the impact of the program on the participants’ perceptions of their preparation for academic careers, a follow up survey was sent in May 2021 to the three former cohorts of participants (n=61), and responses were received from 37 of them. The survey asked participants to reflect on areas that they felt most prepared for in their academic positions, and areas that they felt least prepared for. The survey also asked participants to discuss additional supports they would have liked to have been provided with to better prepare them given their current positions (academic, industry, etc.). Results from the survey indicated that 92% of participants found the professional development program prepared them for the responsibilities and expectations to succeed in academic positions. Over 90% agreed that the program prepared them for the application process for a tenure track search, and 89% agreed the program prepared them for the primary components of the startup package. In addition, participants reported that the program increased their preparation in developing teaching philosophy (100%), developing learning outcomes (97%), and using active learning strategies during teaching (91%). The majority agreed that the program helped prepare them to teach students with various cultural backgrounds, and to develop and use assessment strategies. Participants were also asked to discuss the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic on their career trajectory, and most of them reported being somewhat impacted (65%) to extremely impacted (29%). Participants reported few or no job openings, cancelations of interviews, delays in research which impacted the rate of completing degrees, and publications, which affected the participants’ application competitiveness. Furthermore, working from home and balancing family and academic responsibilities affected their productivity. Based on the survey results, funds were secured to provide an additional day of professional training to cover any items not addressed during summer training, as well as any issues, challenges, or concerns they might have encountered while fulfilling their academic position. Thirty-three ACADEME fellows have indicated that they will participate in the new professional development, held in May 2022. Results from this analysis, and preliminary topics and outcomes of the supplemental activities are discussed. The findings contribute to the literature by increasing knowledge of specific challenges that new faculty encounter and can inform future efforts to support minorities and women in engineering doctoral programs.« less
  5. Need/Motivation (e.g., goals, gaps in knowledge) The ESTEEM implemented a STEM building capacity project through students’ early access to a sustainable and innovative STEM Stepping Stones, called Micro-Internships (MI). The goal is to reap key benefits of a full-length internship and undergraduate research experiences in an abbreviated format, including access, success, degree completion, transfer, and recruiting and retaining more Latinx and underrepresented students into the STEM workforce. The MIs are designed with the goals to provide opportunities for students at a community college and HSI, with authentic STEM research and applied learning experiences (ALE), support for appropriate STEM pathway/career, preparationmore »and confidence to succeed in STEM and engage in summer long REUs, and with improved outcomes. The MI projects are accessible early to more students and build momentum to better overcome critical obstacles to success. The MIs are shorter, flexibly scheduled throughout the year, easily accessible, and participation in multiple MI is encouraged. ESTEEM also establishes a sustainable and collaborative model, working with partners from BSCS Science Education, for MI’s mentor, training, compliance, and building capacity, with shared values and practices to maximize the improvement of student outcomes. New Knowledge (e.g., hypothesis, research questions) Research indicates that REU/internship experiences can be particularly powerful for students from Latinx and underrepresented groups in STEM. However, those experiences are difficult to access for many HSI-community college students (85% of our students hold off-campus jobs), and lack of confidence is a barrier for a majority of our students. The gap between those who can and those who cannot is the “internship access gap.” This project is at a central California Community College (CCC) and HSI, the only affordable post-secondary option in a region serving a historically underrepresented population in STEM, including 75% Hispanic, and 87% have not completed college. MI is designed to reduce inequalities inherent in the internship paradigm by providing access to professional and research skills for those underserved students. The MI has been designed to reduce barriers by offering: shorter duration (25 contact hours); flexible timing (one week to once a week over many weeks); open access/large group; and proximal location (on-campus). MI mentors participate in week-long summer workshops and ongoing monthly community of practice with the goal of co-constructing a shared vision, engaging in conversations about pedagogy and learning, and sustaining the MI program going forward. Approach (e.g., objectives/specific aims, research methodologies, and analysis) Research Question and Methodology: We want to know: How does participation in a micro-internship affect students’ interest and confidence to pursue STEM? We used a mixed-methods design triangulating quantitative Likert-style survey data with interpretive coding of open-responses to reveal themes in students’ motivations, attitudes toward STEM, and confidence. Participants: The study sampled students enrolled either part-time or full-time at the community college. Although each MI was classified within STEM, they were open to any interested student in any major. Demographically, participants self-identified as 70% Hispanic/Latinx, 13% Mixed-Race, and 42 female. Instrument: Student surveys were developed from two previously validated instruments that examine the impact of the MI intervention on student interest in STEM careers and pursuing internships/REUs. Also, the pre- and post (every e months to assess longitudinal outcomes) -surveys included relevant open response prompts. The surveys collected students’ demographics; interest, confidence, and motivation in pursuing a career in STEM; perceived obstacles; and past experiences with internships and MIs. 171 students responded to the pre-survey at the time of submission. Outcomes (e.g., preliminary findings, accomplishments to date) Because we just finished year 1, we lack at this time longitudinal data to reveal if student confidence is maintained over time and whether or not students are more likely to (i) enroll in more internships, (ii) transfer to a four-year university, or (iii) shorten the time it takes for degree attainment. For short term outcomes, students significantly Increased their confidence to continue pursuing opportunities to develop within the STEM pipeline, including full-length internships, completing STEM degrees, and applying for jobs in STEM. For example, using a 2-tailed t-test we compared means before and after the MI experience. 15 out of 16 questions that showed improvement in scores were related to student confidence to pursue STEM or perceived enjoyment of a STEM career. Finding from the free-response questions, showed that the majority of students reported enrolling in the MI to gain knowledge and experience. After the MI, 66% of students reported having gained valuable knowledge and experience, and 35% of students spoke about gaining confidence and/or momentum to pursue STEM as a career. Broader Impacts (e.g., the participation of underrepresented minorities in STEM; development of a diverse STEM workforce, enhanced infrastructure for research and education) The ESTEEM project has the potential for a transformational impact on STEM undergraduate education’s access and success for underrepresented and Latinx community college students, as well as for STEM capacity building at Hartnell College, a CCC and HSI, for students, faculty, professionals, and processes that foster research in STEM and education. Through sharing and transfer abilities of the ESTEEM model to similar institutions, the project has the potential to change the way students are served at an early and critical stage of their higher education experience at CCC, where one in every five community college student in the nation attends a CCC, over 67% of CCC students identify themselves with ethnic backgrounds that are not White, and 40 to 50% of University of California and California State University graduates in STEM started at a CCC, thus making it a key leverage point for recruiting and retaining a more diverse STEM workforce.« less