For many students – particularly those who are first-generation, underrepresented minorities – the transition from high school to college is a jolting experience in terms of the difference in expectations around workload and study hours.
Lily Gossage, director of the Maximizing Engineering Potential (MEP) program, launched a summer program called “Engineering in Your Future” to help students make this transition.
Traditionally, underrepresented minorities predominantly make up the number of first-generation students, and, according to Gossage, minorities often have a more difficult time acclimating to the college workload.
“It’s more pronounced for those who are ‘first in their families’ to go to college; they have more difficulty adjusting to the newness of the college experience because their parents don’t have first-hand experience and are unware of the expectations of campus life,” she says. “It’s a huge step in uncharted territory.”
The program welcomed 120 incoming freshmen, more than half of them women, and MEP was sponsored and supported by the Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Union Pacific, and Xerox.
“Engineering in Your Future” modeled the anticipated rigors of coursework, introduced students to campus services, reinforced understanding of academic policies, matched students with upper-level students from cultural organizations in the engineering field (American Indian Science & Engineering Society, National Society of Black Engineers, Society of Hispanics in Engineering & Science, and Society of Women Engineers) and connected students with the engineering industry via workshops. The session was condensed into two three-day sessions.
Gossage confirmed that this will be an ongoing program that will return next year.
“I’ll be talking with each and every one of our new MEP students to gather their feedback on what was most impactful to them. I’m open to new ideas and interested to see what other ways we can enrich this activity,” Gossage says.