Strategies for Improving the Recruitment and Retention Rates of Women and Minority Students in Chemical Engineering
Felecia Nave, Chemical Engineering, Prairie View A&M University, PO Box 519, MS 2505, Prairie View, TX 77446
America's vitality is linked to its ability to produce a workforce capable of producing scientific and technical innovations in engineering and technology. As the US workforce becomes more diverse, increasing the participation of US citizens that are typically underrepresented in STEM disciplines is essential to the workforce of the future. With the increasing need to produce more well-trained scientist and engineers coupled with the changing demographics of the US labor pool argues for policies, programs, and resources that support greater participation by underrepresented groups in STEM education and careers (May and Chubin, 2003). If the US is to maintain its dominance, it is critical to increase the quantity and quality of students interested in pursuing careers and retaining those in the pipeline in engineering and science disciplines. This issue is particularly acute for engineering and technology disciplines. The number of minorities entering and graduating engineering and technology workforce is at best limited and at worst insignificant. Over the past five years, the Department of Chemical Engineering at Prairie View A&M University has implemented several strategic strategies aimed at improving the recruitment and retention rates of women and minority students. These efforts include 1) hiring of a female faculty, 2) updating curriculum to offer options that are of interest to women and minorities, and 3) incorporation of a freshman engineering course. The purpose of this presentation is to discuss the vital impact of each of the strategies individually and collectively. In addition, a discussion of lessons learned and future assessment will be presented.