NSF INCLUDES: Increasing Degrees Awarded to African American, Hispanic, Native American and Women Students in Engineering (50K Coalition)
Jobs are growing most rapidly in areas that require STEM knowledge, causing business leaders to seek skilled American workers now and in the near future. Increase in the number of students pursuing engineering degrees is taking place but the percentages of underrepresented students in the engineering pipeline remains low. To address the challenge of increasing the participation of underrepresented groups in engineering, the National Society of Black Engineers, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and the Society of Women Engineers have formed the 50K Coalition, a collaborative of over 40 organizations committed to increasing the number of bachelors degrees awarded to women and minorities from 30,000 annually to 50,000 by 2025, a 66% increase. The 50K Coalition is using the Collective Impact framework to develop an evidence-based approach that drives management decision-making, improvements, sharing of information, and collective action to achieve success. The first convening of the 50K Coalition in April, 2016, brought together 83 leaders of the engineering community representing 13 professional societies with over 700,000 members, deans of engineering, minority engineering and women in engineering administrators from 11 leading colleges of engineering, and corporate partners representing six global industries. Consensus was reached on the following Common Agenda items: 1.) Undergraduate support and retention; 2.) Public awareness and marketing; 3.) K-12 support; 4.) Community College linkages; 5.) Culture and climate. The Coalition will encourage member organizations to develop new programs and scale existing programs to reach the goal.
The Coalition will use shared metrics to track progress: AP® Calculus completion and high school graduation rates; undergraduate freshmen retention rates; community college transfer rates and number of engineering degrees awarded. The 50K Coalition will develop the other elements of the Collective Impact framework: Infrastructure and effective decision-making processes that will become the backbone organization with a focus on data management, communications and dissemination; a system of continuous communication including Basecamp, website, the annual Engineering Scorecard, WebEx hosted meetings and convenings; and mutually reinforcing activities such as programs, courses, seminars, webinars, workshops, promotional campaigns, policy initiatives, and institutional capacity building efforts. The National Academy of Sciences study, Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America's Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads recommended that professional associations make recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups an organizational goal and implement programs designed to reach that goal by working with their membership, academic institutions and funding agencies on new initiatives. While these types of organizations work together now in a variety of ways, the relationships are one-on-one. The 50K Coalition brings together, for the first time professional societies, engineering schools, and industry to consider what mutually reinforcing activities can most effectively encourage students from underrepresented groups to complete calculus and graduate from 4-year engineering programs.
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