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Research

Since 1974, NACME and its partners have fostered research-based changes in policies and practices that guarantee equal opportunities for the preparation and participation of all Americans in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). With the support of corporations, foundations, government agencies, and individuals who share our vision, NACME has conducted research and analyzed trends in education, engineering enrollment, degree completion, and workforce participation for underrepresented minorities. NACME has raised awareness and promoted the discussion of equity and engineering education issues throughout its history.

NACME Research Publications

Research and Policy Advisory Council (RPAC)

The NACME Research and Policy Advisory Council (RPAC) is comprised of eminent scholars with expertise in one or more areas that support NACME’s research, evaluation, and policy activities. Members are committed to NACME’s fundamental mission of increasing minority participation in engineering so that our nation has an engineering workforce that looks like America. Members of the council meet quarterly to review the work of NACME’s Director of Research Program Evaluation with on-going review of NACME research briefs, technical reports, and proposals.

Current Members:

Linda Serra Hagedorn
Linda Serra Hagedorn
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Andria Costello Staniec
Andria Costello Staniec
Watson Scott Swail
Watson Scott Swail
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For more information on the work done by the NACME Department of Research, Evaluation and Policy or RPAC, please e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Big Study

NACME has received funding from the National Science Foundation for a major study of the success factors for African American, Latino, and Native American students in its block grant affiliate institutions. The goal is to unearth both programmatic and student factors that contribute to successful outcomes. This study will fill a void in the literature by focusing solely on engineering students, and the multi-site project has the capacity to significantly enhance our knowledge of how to foster engineering talent. Led by Dr. Jacqueline Fleming, this three-year project will become the most comprehensive study yet of minorities in engineering, and the engineering community is poised to make practical use of the insights gained in its national effort to enhance the minority engineering pipeline.

Big Study Focus Group Highlights

Profile of Minority Engineering Students:

NACME's three-year investigation of "Success Factors for Minorities in Engineering," funded by the National Science Foundation, has completed its first year. Part of the initial work was to find out more about minority engineers in college.

Most of what we know of engineering personalities and types in general comes from research describing engineering student learning styles. Much of this work is concerned with broadening the traditional lecture teaching methods in engineering to include more active, hands-on methods that appeal to a wider range of students. These studies describe engineering students as comfortable with mathematics, introverted, intelligent, creative, effective, and good organizers or as single-minded, brusque, and not people-oriented. Some studies dispute the introverted stereotype and suggest engineering students are simply impersonal.

Virtually nothing is known about the personality orientation or learning styles of minority engineering students, although broadening teaching styles has been shown to improve minority student performance as much or more than other students in the general sciences. The focus group approach seemed suited for gathering a general profile of minority engineering students.

Approximately 176 students from 11 universities participated in 45 minute focus group sessions that explored their engineering experiences from first budding interest to career plans. The students were not selected randomly but invited because they were involved in program activities and known to their faculty and staff. They are successful to the extent that they were engaged in their studies and program activities.

They also proved to be an inspiring group of students, who gravitated to engineering largely by inclination or family influence; who are all able to do math and to whom computer applications are second nature; who were often groomed by exposure to STEM programs in secondary school and summer bridge; who work in groups and therefore have access to considerable help when they need it; who believe in networking above all; who thrive in student professional organizations, and pay little attention to racism, failure, or frequent setbacks. They are problem-solvers and doers who want to make things, build things, to have an impact on the world or in some cases to engage in research with the same effect. This is a vanguard of minority students poised to improve their own worlds and the world around them.

The difference between these minority students and the stereotypical picture of the engineer is their outgoing natures. According to one student, "Some of us might be introverted, but not with each other." And according to one administrator, "Minority students have to be outgoing in order to network and take advantage of the opportunities out there for them."

Succeeding phases of the "Success Factors" project will probe ethnic and gender differences in the factors that facilitate the success of this special group of students.

By Jacqueline Fleming

 

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