U joins group to boost enrollment of minorities, women in science, engineering

By Sally Pobojewski
News and Information Services

The University has joined the Alliance for Minority Participation (AMP), a seven-university consortium whose goal is to bring about, over the next five years, “a 100 percent increase in minorities and women who enroll in and graduate from their universities’ science and engineering programs.”

The initiative has received a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation. Participating universities will invest more than $6 million of their own resources to further program efforts. The other six participants are North Carolina A&T State University; Prairie View A&M University; Southern University; Stanford University; University of Texas, Austin; and University of Washington.

The primary goals of AMP, according to the consortium, are “to develop effective retention methods for underrepresented minority science and engineering students, to increase the numbers of such students who graduate from the participating institutions, and to improve the quality of the school’s learning environments relative to the minority student community. The three primary project areas include academic enrichment, outreach and community college linkages, and industry involvement.”

While all seven universities will participate in all three project areas, each university will lead in a particular project. The U-M will serve as the “lead university” for the industry involvement project area.

“We are excited about replicating our successes in developing strong education-industry alliances,” said Derrick E. Scott, director of the College of Engineering’s Minority Engineering Program Office. “Effective business-education partnerships are critical to the success of this project.”

“Statistics indicate that the United States faces severe engineering and science personnel shortages over the next 10 years if more is not done to raise the preparedness levels of potential future engineers and scientists,” said Erdogan Gulari, College of Engineering senior associate dean and principal investigator for the project.

“This project brings the efforts of many groups to bear on the critical goal of increasing the numbers of minorities and women who will fill the United States’ pipeline of technical talent.”

Gulari and his team will work to form alliances among various academic departments, including engineering, math, physics, chemistry, computer science, and biology.

To recruit more science and engineering students, participating universities will offer scholarships to high-achieving minority and women students, develop or augment special enrichment programs for lower-achieving students, and engage in a concerted effort to attract community college students.

To increase retention rates once students are enrolled, the AMP initiative will emphasize collaborative learning, a strategy that promotes “clustering” of minorities and women in key courses and their participation in study groups; supplemental academic instruction; more effective interactions with faculty, industry, and alumni; and hands-on research experiences in science and engineering.

To facilitate industry involvement, the initiative will develop scholarship, internship, and co-op programs; executive loan and visiting faculty programs; university-led seminars for industry; and career exposure programs for students.

“We hope that this alliance serves as a model for creating partnerships that link all players in the effort to spur minority participation in engineering and the sciences,” said Michael G. Parsons, College of Engineering associate dean of undergraduate education and an AMP project area director. “We need the unique contributions that each group can make. Predominantly white research universities, historically Black colleges and universities, heavily Hispanic/American Indian-populated institutions, community colleges, government, industry—each has a role to play.”


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