Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Talent Expansion Proposal


City College of the City University of New York

in partnership with:

Borough of Manhattan Community College/CUNY

Hostos Community College/CUNY



Three City University of New York (CUNY) colleges, City College of New York (CCNY), Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College (HCC) and The Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) propose to form a partnership for providing a seamless engineering education process leading to an increased number of students receiving degrees in the various engineering fields.

The City University of New York (CUNY) is a public institution comprising 17 senior and community colleges in addition to several professional schools and the Graduate Center. The campuses are located in all the boroughs of New York City and the University serves a diverse body of students, with a majority of them coming from underrepresented minorities and disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. The City College of New York (CCNY) houses the only School of Engineering in CUNY and also is the only public engineering school in New York City. Accordingly, a substantial number of students start their engineering studies at one of the CUNY colleges and then transfer to City College to complete their degrees. In the past, the only instruments available to facilitate this transfer process were articulation agreements negotiated between City College and other CUNY campuses. However, we believe that articulation agreements are not by themselves sufficient to increase the number of students who enroll and graduate from engineering. In the present project we propose to build a seamless public engineering education process based on strategies with demonstrated success. Increasing the number of students graduating with an engineering degree can be accomplished, we believe, through improved learning experiences in early science and engineering courses, early, exciting research experiences and an enhanced transfer process. The proposed strategies are designed to optimize all of these.

The project plan is consistent with the missions of both the City University of New York and each of the participating institutions. While the specific wording varies, the spirit of the mission statements integrate the goals of providing access to higher education for the people of New York City, with guarantees of excellence in academic opportunities and in the preparation provided for future professional success and a lifetime of learning. In addressing these goals, the proposed CUNY partners have placed special emphasis on the preparation of students in STEM fields.

Based on their missions, the partner colleges share a broad vision for increasing participation of underrepresented minorities in STEM professions. This vision is grounded in decades of experience in educating large numbers of students from these groups. It depends on the perception of widespread need for challenging learning experiences and close, ongoing support for the achievement of academic and professional goals. In addition, the vision includes a recognition of vast individual differences and the resulting need to plan interventions based on ongoing assessment of each student's status and trajectory. While always challenged by limited resources, we nevertheless aspire to have this vision reflected in all of our programs and services.

City College itself is characterized by significant curricular and research strengths in engineering and science. The College leads the University in the level of external funding it attracts for research and curriculum development projects. In recent years the College has expanded its research and research training capacity with the addition of the Structural Biology Center on campus and a new academic program in Biomedical Engineering.

City College already receives many transfer students from the two partner institutions. Table 1 indicates the existence of an established transfer program, bringing students from the two partner colleges to the School of Engineering at City College. The total number of these transfer students, as counted in the Fall 2003 (the most recent academic year for which there is complete data), is 133, or 5.9 per cent of a total enrollment of 2259 students. (Table 3 gives the enrollment numbers for the individual programs for the same time period. In the Fall of 2002 a Biomedical Engineering (Bmed.E.) Program was started). We are especially pleased to note that women make up 23.3 percent of this group of transfer students. Table 2 gives the numbers of the transfer cohort for Fall 2003.

Table 4 shows that the three partner colleges enroll a substantial number of students: a total of 31,317. This table also gives the STEM enrollment and graduation rates at each of the partner institutions. In interpreting the graduation rates, especially at community colleges one must take into consideration the fact that many students transfer to other CUNY colleges and other institutions, and are not necessarily failures or dropouts. In addition, one should remember that the national 6-year graduation rate is 45 percent. The overwhelming majority of students at the three institutions are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

  Bmed.E. Ch.E. C.E. C.Sc. E.E. M.E. Cp.E. Total
Partner College M/W M/W M/W M/W M/W M/W M/W M+W
BMCC 3-Jan 3-Jul 19/11 33/3 14/3 13/5 87+28=115
HCC Apr-00 2-Feb May-00 Mar-00 1-Jan 15+3=18
Grand Total 3-Jan 3-Nov 21/13 38/3 17/3 14/6 102+31=133

Table 1: Total Number Of Transfer Students in CCNY School of Engineering from the Two Partner Community Colleges, Fall 2003


  Bmed.E. Ch.E. C.E. C.Sc. E.E. M.E. Cp.E. Total
Partner College M/W M/W M/W M/W M/W M/W M/W M+W
BMCC Feb-00 3-Apr May-00 Feb-00 1-Mar 16+4=20
HCC Feb-00 2-Jan 0/1 3+3=6
Grand Total Apr-00 5-May May-00 Feb-00 2-Mar 19+7=26

Table 2: New Transfer Students from the Two Partner Community Colleges, Fall 2003


Department Bmed.E. ChE. C.E. C.Sc. E.E. M.E. Cp.E. Total
  M/W M/W M/W M/W M/W M/W M/W M+W
Enrollment 34/19 58/44 221/73 466/167 475/57 302/38 256/49 1812+447=2259

Table 3: Undergraduate Engineering Majors at City College, Fall 2003


College Total UG Enrollment STEM Enrollment Percent of Citizens and Permanent Residents Graduation Rates
CCNY 8,936 3,243 89.10% 32%
BMCC 18,465 2,699 88.30% 16.10%
HCC 3,916 160 91.70% 21%

Table 4: Total UG Enrollment, STEM Enrollment and Graduation Rates at the Partner Institutions, Fall 2003


As the above statistics indicate, at the partner institutions there is a large pool of students from which many more students can be recruited to and retained in engineering . The proposed project envisions a smooth and seamless process which will enable a student to start his/her engineering education in any of the colleges and obtain a degree with least cost, minimum time and without loss of credits. With proposed interventions in place, we will enable many talented students to access the best that CUNY can offer without any loss in rigor or quality. This will be accomplished by implementing the following strategies, which will be later described in detail: (1) extensive curricular coordination, especially for first- and second-year courses; (2) wide use of new media resources to support the teaching/learning process; (3) incorporation of a peer mentoring model (developed at City College with NSF support) into instruction at introductory levels; (4) development of high-interest, hands-on research experiences for freshmen and sophomores; and (5) careful attention to preparing students well for the transfer experience and for success in Engineering at City College. These activities will not be implemented in isolation, but rather will be mutually supportive.

This program is consistent with the current national need to increase the number of students interested in engineering. A recent study by the ACT (2003) [1] reports that the number of high school seniors planning to study engineering dropped from nine percent in 1992 to six percent in 2002. The report also documents a drop in the number of female ACT test takers considering engineering careers. Further, there is a gap between the aspirations of racial/ethnic minority test takers, as indicated by expressed interest in engineering, and their lack of relevant preparation with more than basic coursework. A second report released by the Committee for Economic Development (CED, 2003) [2] focused on three issues: lack of interest in scientific and technological careers among young people, poor quality of coursework, and inadequate teacher training. The studies point to the possibility of a future engineering workforce, inadequate to satisfy the needs of U.S industry. Thus, there is a strong need for aggressive recruitment and retention efforts, especially efforts aimed at underrepresented minorities and women.


A. Projects for PIs and Co-PIs in Last 5 Years

▪ EEC – 0229381, $99,999, 10/1/02 – 9/30/03, PI – F. Delale – "Curriculum Reform of the Mechanical Engineering Program at City College.

Summary of Results: The aim of this project was to prepare a comprehensive plan for reforming the Mechanical Engineering Program at City College. The planning process was successful in that it resulted in an implementation proposal funded by NSF. The main elements of the proposed reform effort were: a) incorporation of emerging technologies such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, MEMS, advanced materials, intelligent systems, nontraditional energy into the mechanical engineering curriculum b) introduction of new teaching strategies focused on student learning and c) undertaking recruitment and retention efforts to ensure adequate preparation of the emerging engineering workforce. A partnership between City College and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME ) insures a strong link between the needs of industry and mechanical engineering education.

▪ EEC – 0343154, $1,500,000, 9/15/03 – 8/31/06, PI – F. Delale – "Redefining Mechanical Engineering: Systemic Reform of the Mechanical Engineering Program at City College

Summary of Results: The main task of this curriculum reform project is the incorporation of emerging technologies and new teaching strategies into the courses of the Mechanical Engineering (ME) program at the City College of New York. To implement the changes effectively it was decided that the modification of courses will be carried out in stages, starting with seven courses in the first year. The other tasks of this project are: introducing a new course in micro/nano technology, changing the science requirements and implementing other changes in the curriculum, establishing a new Energy Systems Laboratory, devising strategies for recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities and women, and carrying out collaborative activities with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). The implementation of these activities started in Fall 2003 and is currently continuing.

▪ ECS – 0217646, $240,000, 10/1/02 – 9/30/05, PI - M. Tamargo – "Wide BandGap II-VI Compounds for Quantum Cascade Layers

Summary of Results: In this grant, which is currently in its third year, we proposed to explore the viability of using wide band gap II-VI compound semiconductors in a new type of semiconductor devices known as Quantum Cascade Lasers (QCL). The unipolar transport requirements of this device make the II-VI compounds ideal, since bipolar doping of these materials is still difficult. These materials showed promise for short wavelength (1.55 m m) QCLs. Our results have clearly established their potential.

B. Other Relevant NSF-Supported Projects

ECSEL – Engineering Coalition (EID-9053812) City College was one of seven engineering schools that participated in the Engineering Coalition of Schools for Excellence in Education and Leadership, which was funded from 1990-2000. Its goals were to integrate design across the engineering curriculum, and increase retention rates, particularly among traditionally underrepresented minority groups and women. ECSEL supported the introduction of Freshman Design courses in all seven coalition schools. The evaluation team made the following observations in their final report: "The evidence indicates that ECSEL promoted important changes among faculty members and administrators in how they think about undergraduate engineering education, the importance they attach to teaching design, and the team-based methods they use. " (Terenzini et al, 2001) [3]

A Workshop Chemistry Curriculum (DUE-9455920 ) The City College Consortium, which included ten senior and community colleges at the City University of New York, and the Universities of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Rochester, developed and applied a new model of teaching chemistry. This model, called Workshop Chemistry, introduces participation and mentorship by recent graduates of the course. Each week two, hour-long student-led workshops complement the lecture and laboratory components, by providing a collaborative learning experience that increases student involvement and supports a new role for students as mentors.

Home Experiments in Mechanical Engineering (DUE-9354365). This project developed the use of home experiments to introduce basic concepts and methods of engineering in a uniquely intuitive manner. Home experiments were introduced into Mechanical Engineering courses in Heat Transfer, Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics and Mechanics of Materials. According to the project evaluator, "Most students found home experiments to be somewhat enjoyable; [the experiments] encourage them to seek out more information about the underlying theory; and they were able to implement them without significant distraction." (Jiji, Delale & Liaw, 1996) [4]


The project aims to achieve a goal consistent with that articulated for the STEP Program – to increase the number of students receiving baccalaureate degrees in engineering. The partner institutions, representing both community and senior college institutions within the City University of New York, aspire to create learning opportunities and an overall supportive climate, following a longitudinal path from freshman to first semester after transfer, that achieves the following specific objectives:

  • Increase in the number of students enrolling in, retained in and graduating from Associate and Bachelors degree programs in Engineering
  • Improved preparation in academic skill areas providing the foundation for success in upper division Engineering coursework
  • Enhanced readiness for research participation at the upper division level in Engineering
  • More seamless and successful transitions between community and senior college Engineering programs



The proposed activity plan is based on an extensive review of the needs of students at the participating institutions, both at the pre- and post-transfer levels, who intend to complete a Bachelors degree in Engineering. In addition, interventions to improve engineering transfer student success implemented at the partner schools and at other institutions in the nation were examined for possible models. We believe the set of activities propose will work together toward the achievement of the objectives above. Project activities will include:


A significant challenge in creating a unified engineering experience for students is ensuring comparable learning experiences at the early undergraduate level. As freshmen and sophomores, whether at the community or senior college, students intending to achieve an engineering baccalaureate degree are taking courses in the physical sciences, mathematics and, in some cases, engineering that lay a necessary foundation for advanced coursework in engineering. With equivalent titles, but little or no deliberate attempts at ensuring equivalent mastery, students often encounter difficulties when advanced courses demand skills and knowledge that have not been fully developed.

As one of the keystones of the proposed project, the partner institutions will work together to redesign three lower division STEM courses per year. The intent is to make these courses functionally identical in terms of learning outcomes and generally more effective in promoting student mastery than they are now. Equivalency will be built from a detailed specification of learning outcomes for each course and, related to this, agreement on objective assessment procedures that will ensure valid measurement of each student's level of mastery. This outcomes assessment process for each course will be guided by the criteria set by the partner colleges' accrediting organizations, Middle States Commission and ABET (for City College School of Engineering), and by growing experience in establishing outcomes assessment as a model across curricular areas.

The outcomes assessment approach also will allow for more detailed, objective communication between the community and senior college partners with regard to student preparation and progress. Pre-transfer information on levels of student mastery will allow City College to more effectively manage the transfer process and instruction in advanced coursework; post-transfer data can be used by the community colleges to fine-tune their coursework to better prepare students for success in senior college engineering programs.

Because the intent is to make the courses not only equivalent, but better, the redesign will involve the integration of features of learning programs that have been shown to enhance student success, especially in STEM areas, including:

Integration of collaborative, small-group work into first- and second-level STEM courses.

Rationale: Both national reports, e.g. "Effects of Small-Group Learning on Undergraduates in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology: A Meta-Analysis", conducted by the National Institute for Science Education (NISE) (1997) [5], and the extensive experience at City College with David Gosser's NSF-funded peer leadership model, suggest the enormous value to students of small group learning experiences imbedded within their undergraduate coursework. Significant for the proposed project, which will impact on the learning of students primarily drawn from groups underrepresented in STEM fields, the NISE analysis found that small-group models were particularly potent and positive influences on the achievement, persistence and attitudes of African Americans and Latinos.

Implementation: At least two models of collaborative small-group work will be incorporated into first level courses in science and mathematics, both involving peer support for learning:

Peer Instruction - The first is suggested by the work of Mazur (1997, 2002) [6,7] and will involve the use of very short problem-solving interludes in lecture courses, in which students work with those seated around them to decide on the correct answer to the question. The model provides for active roles for students in lecture courses and, in addition, gives feedback to the instructor regarding the level of student understanding of the reading and lecture material.

Peer-Led Team-Learning - The NSF – DUE funded "Workshop Chemistry Project", implemented first at City College, uses advanced, specially-trained undergraduates as discussion/problem-solving session leaders for students in first-level science courses (Gosser & Roth, 1998) [8]. This model will be adapted and implemented in the courses targeted in the proposed project. We will train advanced undergraduates from STEM disciplines at City College and assign them to work as part of the teaching teams in revised courses at the two community college partners.

Infusion of high-interest research topics into more general presentations of science, mathematics and engineering fundamentals.

Rationale: Integration of research and education has been set as a priority in major reports concerning the STEM education enterprise, e.g. in U.S. Science and Engineering in a Changing World (1996) [9]. While this often involves student apprenticeships in faculty research, models also are available for the direct infusion of very interesting examples of current research and opportunities to gain direct experience in the research process into first- and second-level courses in STEM areas.

Implementation: Two NSF-funded initiatives at the undergraduate level suggest strategies to be used in the proposed project. Both involved the integration of research examples with problem-based assignments.

Delaware's Innovative Science/mathematics Collaborative for Undergraduate Success (DISCUS) at the University of Delaware involved, like the proposed project, both senior and community colleges and involved cross-institution faculty teams developing realistic problems as vehicles for introducing investigative activities into introductory courses. (University of Delaware, 1997) [10].

Carnegie Mellon University used cross-disciplinary problem solving as a core activity in their undergraduate courses (Stocks, Ramsey & Lazurus, 2003) [11].

Use of new technology tools to give students access to visual representations of STEM concepts that clarify understanding and to create virtual learning communities.

Rationale: The use of computer-based teaching resources presents several advantages for both learners and teachers. (1) a wide variety of print, graphic and media representations can be made available to learners in and outside the classroom to facilitate a working understanding of STEM concepts; (2) online materials allow students 24/7 access to learning materials and permit many repetitions of specific lessons, critical features for heterogeneous student groups with significant ESL representation; (3) full-featured course web sites can facilitate communication among all course participants and be used to create virtual learning communities that reinforce learning.

Implementation: The faculty teams expect to make extensive use of Blackboard [12] software for the creation of shared web sites for each course. Blackboard has been the standard within the City University of New York for at least five years and the project will benefit from the significant experience and support available both from the University and within each of the partner institutions. Additionally, to facilitate the construction of course sites that are rich in resources and well-designed, the project staff will include individuals with expertise in programming for the web and in computer graphics.

Course sites will include carefully selected graphic and media representations of fundamental science, mathematics and engineering concepts, designed to clarify and reinforce understanding, especially for students who find the leap from abstractions presented in the text to applications in sample examples and problems challenging. Many such representations already exist and the chief task will be to locate and organize these for student use.

Course sites also will include detailed, multimedia presentations of current research, including techniques, findings and applications. Many of these will be drawn from research at the participating colleges, as a way to interest students in joining faculty lab groups as research apprentices. Information about each research project will be organized as a learning object that can be used and re-used in different ways by different instructors. Among the components will be statements of problems related to the research that could be used for in- or out-of-class problem solving activities by students. Among the areas of research to be represented will be: bio-engineering, aeronautics, remote sensing and environmental quality, laser applications, semiconductor production strategies, computer modeling.

Blackboard offers a number of different communication options as standard features. Students can be organized into teams and given a virtual space in which to work collaboratively, either synchronously or asynchronously, without other teams being able to access their communications. Instructors can communicate via email or a shared "whiteboard" with all students in the class or with selected sub-groups. Assignments, both first draft and final, can be submitted, reviewed and returned electronically. "Guest lecturers" can do presentations to all students online and then respond to questions, using media and an electronic "whiteboard" as tools. Faculty teams will design and use an identical set of Blackboard-based resources, including print and media materials, links to appropriate Internet sites, self-tests, research-focused learning objects, and communication functions, The standardization of these Blackboard-based supports for learning will contribute to the overall goal of creating equivalent learning experiences at the three institutions.

The curriculum redesign efforts will be undertaken by teams of three faculty for each course, one person from each of the partner institutions, with each team member experienced in teaching the course to be targeted. Team members will receive both summer and academic year funding to ensure time and opportunity to thoroughly work out first the outcomes statements and assessment approaches, then the course activities. Team members will meet regularly and also be responsible for consulting with their respective chairs, deans and departmental colleagues to ensure that there is broad support for the revised course design and activities. Although partner colleges may not, in the end, offer a completely identical set of learning experiences and assessment procedures, each is fully committed to achieving identical outcomes in terms of the important features of student learning in the targeted subject. The schedule of implementation for this curriculum design component will cover the first four years of the project period, with Year Five used for final evaluation.


YEAR 1 Pre-Calculus Chemistry 1 Physics 1
YEAR 2 Calculus 1 Freshman Engineering Design Physics 2
YEAR 3 Calculus 2 Drafting Introduction to Computing
YEAR 4 Calculus 3 Statics Thermodynamics



Undergraduate students who participate in research apprenticeships are more likely to complete their studies in a STEM area and to pursue graduate degrees. (Centered on Learning, 2003) [13] Research experience provides students with a connection to the real world and brings him/her into contact with cutting edge technology. Students gain a greater appreciation of the math, science and engineering science courses they take during their studies and better understand their connection to engineering practice. To extend these benefits, we propose the following:

Expansion of research opportunities in faculty laboratories for freshmen and sophomore students

Rationale: The NSF places a high priority on research experiences for undergraduate students through supplements to individual research projects and funding of research experiences for undergraduate students. Throughout CUNY and specifically at participating institutions some students are already engaged in research projects through the LSAMP program (Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation) and other funded research projects.

Every semester approximately 55 students from City College , 10 students from BMCC and 7 students from Hostos participate in the LSAMP program in all STEM areas. The goal of this proposal is to offer an opportunity to other able students and increase the number of research positions available for lower-division undergraduate students.

There are research opportunities at all the participating institutions. At BMCC, faculty members in STEM areas contribute to $4.4M in externally funded research. The comparable numbers at Hostos are $1.4 M. At City College, research is a very significant institutional activity; in the School of Engineering alone approximately two thirds (2/3) of the faculty are research active, bringing in $12.6 M of the $42.6 M funded research budget.

Implementation: Many research active faculty members have agreed to provide opportunities for students to participate in their projects. A rigorous student selection process will be established by a committee with members from all partner institutions. This committee will begin by identifying research projects that will host students. The positions then will be advertised at all partner institutions and applications from students solicited. The committee will establish selection criteria, e.g. academic performance, willingness and ambition to undertake research. Students who participate will receive a tuition assistance award.

Prof. F. Delale (City College) will coordinate the research experiences effort.

Summer research program for pre-transfer students

Rationale: Typically transfer students in Engineering, even those who have experience in faculty laboratories at their community college, must sit out a semester when they transfer, until their senior college grade point average qualifies them for a research placement. While allowing time for transfer students to adapt to the new campus and study demands, the costs are loss of momentum, motivation and training time. As a consequence of the other interventions proposed here, we believe students will be ready to become involved in research right at the beginning of the transfer process.

Implementation: We propose to select and support several students from the two participating community colleges, committed to entering City College's School of Engineering, to begin work in a faculty laboratory during the summer preceding their matriculation at City. To facilitate the matching of students with research opportunities, information will be provided online and through in-person presentations by faculty researchers at the community colleges. Interested students will apply for these summer research apprenticeships, with selection based on the quality of students' academic records and the match of their interests to those represented in available laboratory positions.


Engineering undergraduates are more likely to persist in their studies and attain their degrees in academic climates that they perceive as being warm and supportive. (Brown et al, 2004, 2005) [14,15] One of the obstacles to a seamless and successful transfer experience is the too-common perception of students that they are moving from a more personal and attentive environment in their community college to one that is unfamiliar and depersonalized.

Several current activities, such as City College's 4-week summer program for transfer students (Transfer Retention At City College (TRACC) and proposed no-cost activities, such as regularly bringing community college students to the City College campus for career fairs, NASA Day, Nanotechnology Day and other events, will serve to familiarize students with the City College School of Engineering. Additionally, the City College advanced undergraduates who will serve as workshop leaders in community college courses will become familiar and friendly links to the senior college programs and can informally provide information and advice about the City College Engineering experience.

To reinforce interest and participation in research, community college students will be invited to participate in student research conferences held at City College annually, e.g. the upcoming "Einsteins in the City" Conference to be held in March 2005 and regularly thereafter, that has attracted both national and international student participation.

To improve transfer success for all entering students from our partner community colleges, we propose two additional activities:


Summer orientation week for transfer students

Because the TRACC Program does not provide any stipend for students, those who need to work during the summer do not attend – a sizable percentage of entering transfers. To extend at least some of the benefits of this program, we propose a one-week experience for students for which they each will receive $250. We expect the program – to be called Fast TRACC - to attract 50 new transfers to Engineering who will be accommodated in one of two week-long sessions. Activities will include: assessment of entry skills, research and career interests, advisement by a faculty members, team design/problem-solving competitions, research presentations by faculty, and social activities designed to build friendships among entering students.

Design competitions linking senior and community college students

In April 1993 the City College Student Section of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) first attended the annual Regional Student Conference (RSC) to participate in various competitions. The excitement, interest and pride generated by this event were impressive. This event taught us an important lesson: contests, and in particular design contests, are powerful motivating tools. They satisfy the need to invent, design, build, test and win. Other departments have arrived at the same conclusion. The student branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has been participating in the Concrete Canoe design contest for many years. Student members of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) have been active in the Baha competition. More recently a student branch of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) was established at City College for the purpose of competing in the annual airplane design contest. Interest in this project increased from 4 participants in 2001-2002 to 17 this year. Similar developments occurred in Computer Science as well.

We propose to actively encourage interested community college students to enroll as members of a professional society in their field of interest and to involve them in the annual regional and national contests sponsored by these societies with chapters at City College. Community college students will be teamed up with City College students to work on specific contest projects. Teamwork builds friendship and has all the advantages of collaborative learning. Elective course credit can be awarded for this participation.

An unforeseen byproduct of contest activity is its impact on retention. We have discovered that those who do best in design are not necessarily the best academic achievers and that winning in design contests does not necessarily correlate with high grades. Students' discovery that they have talent that is recognized and rewarded enhances their morale, spirit and determination. We are convinced that there will be community college students who will discover their innate strengths and talents during this collaborative experience.

City College student organizations will play a major role in the endeavor. They will visit the partner institutions to share their experiences and recruit colleagues to the societies. An Engineering faculty advisor from City College will coordinate the design contest efforts.


Project Director and Co-Directors. The Project Director will be Joseph Barba, Acting Dean of the School of Engineering (SOE) at City College. Dean Barba will have overall administrative responsibility for the project, also serving as the chief liaison with the senior administrations of the three partner institutions.

At each partner institution one Co-Director will be in charge of the project activities. The Co-Directors will be: Prof. F. Delale (City College, Chair of Mechanical Engineering); Dean Maria Tamargo (City College, Dean of Science); Dr. M. Ardebili (BMCC); and Dean Carlos Molina (Hostos Community College). Dean of Science at City College Maria Tamargo, a Co-Director, will have specific responsibility for the coordination of science curriculum activities.

Assistant Dean Ramona Brown (CCNY, School of Engineering, Office of Student Programs) and several faculty members at each partner institution will participate in the project. An organizational chart is given in Fig.1. Each activity of the proposal will have a team leader who will coordinate the effort at all partner institutions.


Every month the Project Director, Dean Barba, will convene a meeting of the Co-Directors and other participants with major project responsibility to review progress and resolve problems that may develop. The group will also consider feedback from various constituents and the evaluator and, based on this information, make adjustments and corrections if necessary. The meeting location will be rotated among the partner institutions. Also, the Director, the Co-Directors and the evaluator will meet at least twice a year with the Internal Advisory Board to report on progress of the project and discuss recommendations.

Finally, to insure smooth functioning among the partners a part-time administrator will assist with the administrative and logistical aspects of the project.


The project evaluation activities will determine (1) to what extent the project has been successful in achieving its stated goals and objectives and (2) the extent to which project activities as implemented match the proposed plan. Evaluation will begin with funding and extend continuously across the project period. As an outcome of formative assessment, the Project Evaluator, Dr. Annita Alting, will advise the project director and Internal Advisory Board about outcomes that suggest the need for modifying activities to make them more effective. Assistant Dean Ramona Brown (CCNY Engineering) will serve as Internal Research Coordinator.

A timetable for evaluation has been defined. Additionally, for each of the project objectives, focal questions have been drafted, along with a plan for data to be collected.

Considering the enrollments and graduation rates for 2005-2006 as baselines, the progress and success of the project will be judged based on the following benchmarks:

  • After two years, enrollments in STEM areas should increase by 5% at HCC and BMCC and in engineering by 5% at CCNY
  • After four years, enrollment in STEM areas should increase by 10% at HCC and BMCC and in engineering by 10% at CCNY
  • After two years, graduation rates in STEM fields should increase by 5% at HCC and BMCC
  • After four years, graduation rates in STEM fields should increase by 10% at HCC and BMCC and in engineering by 10% at CCNY.

We believe that these increases, especially the increase in engineering enrollment and graduation will not come at the expense of non-engineering STEM fields for the following reasons: (a) because the primary focus is on improved preparation at the early stages of undergraduate study, i.e., foundation coursework in the sciences and mathematics, the project has the potential to have an important and positive impact on other students who are in these courses – those aiming for degrees in the sciences; (b) the research training and transfer support activities proposed in this project are geared mostly towards retention and graduation of a student cohort that has already shown a commitment to engineering .

A. Evaluation Plan

The evaluation is primarily an effects evaluation to measure the achievement of stated objectives through the activities mentioned as part of the STEP program strategy:

  • Increase in the number of students enrolling in, retained in and graduating from Bachelors degree programs in Engineering
  • Improved preparation in academic skill areas providing the foundation for success in upper division Engineering coursework
  • Enhanced readiness for research participation at the upper division level in Engineering
  • More seamless and successful transitions between community and senior college Engineering programs

1. Effective Evaluation

September - December 2005 1. Collect STEM enrollment Fall 2005 at BMCC, HCC, and SOE enrollment at CCNY.

2. Collect number of Fall 2005 graduates at BMCC, HCC, CCNY.

3. Collect number of Fall 2005 transfer students from BMCC, HCC to SOE, with / without Associate's degree.

4. Collect descriptive data (see note) for each STEP component.

5. Literature study / input collection for evaluation of Curriculum Development and Research Experience components.

February - Jun-06 1. Continue collecting enrollment, graduation and descriptive data for Spring 2006.

2. Develop & apply instruments for evaluation of Curricular, Research and Summer Transfer components.

Dec 2006 Establish Baseline, Interim Report I.
September 2006 - December 2007 1. Continue collecting enrollment, graduation and descriptive data for Fall 2006

2. Use instruments for evaluation of Curricular & Research components

February - Jun-08 1. Continue collecting enrollment, graduation and descriptive data for Spring 2007

2. Revise instrument for evaluation of Curricular, Research & Summer Transfer components

September - December 2008 1. Analyze data; compare to baseline.

2. Determine achievement of 5% increase in STEM enrollment at BMCC, HCC, and SOE enrollment.

3. Determine achievement of 5% graduation rate increase in STEM areas at BMCC, HCC.

4. If increase not achieved, determine causes from descriptive data and additional information (e.g., national enrollment trends) and adjust STEP activities.

5. Continue collecting enrollment, graduation and descriptive data for Fall 2007

6. Interim Report II.

7. Start collecting data for evaluation of Curricular and Research components

February - Jun-09 Continue collecting enrollment, graduation and descriptive data for Spring 2008, including data for evaluation of Curricular and Research components.
September - December 2009 Continue collecting enrollment, graduation and descriptive data for Fall 2008, including data for evaluation of Curricular, Research & summer Transfer components.
February - Jun-10 Continue collecting enrollment, graduation and descriptive data for Spring 2009, including data for evaluation of Curricular and Research components.
September - December 2010 1. Analyze data & compare to baselines.

2. Determine achievement of 10% increase in STEM enrollment at BMCC and HCC, and SOE enrollment.

3. Determine achievement of 10% graduation rate increase in STEM areas at BMCC, HCC and in SOE.

4. If increase achieved, export STEP program to other community colleges in CUNY.

5. If increase not achieved, determine causes from descriptive data and additional information and adjust STEP activities.

6. Data analysis and evaluation of all components

7. Final Report..


Note: Descriptive data for each will component will consist of short (one page) reports of activities undertaken, number of faculty, staff and students involved, experiences, facilitators and barriers to success.

2. Evaluation of Project Components

The evaluation of each component will consist of the descriptive reports mentioned above and, in addition, will address specific focal questions in each area:

Curriculum Development: (a) How are course pass rates and performance patterns different than baseline for each targeted course? (b) How do students and faculty rate revised courses? (c) Are there differences in students’ success rates in courses that follow those that were modified?

Data: Course grades; grades on representative assignments; course evaluations; student and faculty responses on questionnaires

Research Training: (a) How are the numbers of student research participants changed over baseline? (b) How are student competencies and attitudes changed by research experiences? (c) Do students seek out and succeed in later research placements?

Data: Number of student participants in early and advanced placements; responses on questionnaires and in interviews with students and faculty researchers

Summer and Academic Year Pre-Transfer Activities: (a) How many students participate in summer and academic year activities? (b) To what extent are student participation and subsequent success in engineering correlated? (c) What aspects of the pre-transfer activities have the most important effects on students’ subsequent decisions and success?

Data: Count of student participation; post-transfer academic performance; post-transfer research participation; student responses on questionnaires & in interviews

3. Estimation of contribution of each component to desired outcomes

a. Institutional level. From the descriptive data for each component, a measure of success for the implementation of each component will be derived for each of the participating institutions. In combination with the collected achievement, transfer, and retention data for each institution, the relative success of each (combination of) component(s) can be estimated and described in a qualitative manner at the institutional level. Applicable quantitative procedures include SPSS descriptive statistics and cross-tabulations.

b. Student level. In addition to the descriptive data for each component, a short student questionnaire will be developed to measure student participation in and attitudes toward each STEP component. This questionnaire will be administered at the end of each semester. The correlation of student participation data and attitudes with student achievement, retention, motivation, and choice of STEM field will yield an estimate of the relative contribution of each STEP component to each of the desired outcomes on the student level. Applicable quantitative procedures will be SPSS correlation, regression and (M)ANOVA.

Using a cross-sectional survey methodology, we also will assess community college students’ perceptions of person-environment factors, identified as institutional and personal/social factors, in the campus climate. Data will be collected from students at the two community college sites to determine the campus climate factors that contribute to the student transfer process from the two-year to four-year institution. The same data collection process will be followed at City College with new transfer students to determine how factors at the senior-college level influence the transfer process.


Continuation. The proposers intend that all strategies demonstrated to be effective in improving graduation rates in Engineering will be institutionalized. Of the proposed activities, curricular changes can be continued without additional funding. This includes the use of peer leaders, which will be paid from regular college sources. Institutionalizing research apprenticeships at the same level as during the funding period will require alternative outside resources. It is the intent of the project staff to design print and outline materials during the project period to use to attract contributions from alumni and business sources for this purpose. The summer transfer programs can continue, but without student stipends. Funds for the design contests will be provided by the Dean of the School of Engineering at CCNY. For the research experiences component the CUNY central administration has made a commitment of $ 40, 000 per year for up to 3 years. This will give time to the colleges to devise a permanent funding plan that will most likely involve supplements to existing research grants, industrial support and institutional funds. Letters of commitment from CUNY administrators are included.


Within the City University of New York: During the project period, the collaborating institutions will share information about the sponsored activities and outcomes with the University leadership and with sister institutions in the CUNY system. Strategies that are successful will gradually be expanded to other CUNY institutions. CUNY has several senior and community colleges which are within commuting distance of the partner institutions and can benefit significantly from these activities. The following campuses will be targeted: Queens College, Brooklyn College, Lehman College, New York City College of Technology, Bronx CC, York College, Queensborough Community College, College of Staten Island, Medgar Evers, Brooklyn CC, and Laguardia CC. We believe expansion to other CUNY colleges is feasible because of the existing relationships and proximity for a large population of students. It is not an exaggeration to state that this project may have a major impact, considering the total enrollment at CUNY, which is over 200,000 students. The dissemination process will be facilitated by the role of the proposed Project Director, Joe Barba, as a representative on the CUNY-wide LSAMP Steering Committee; this group meets monthly.

To other institutions and audiences: The results of the project will be disseminated aggressively to wider audiences with the intent of motivating and supporting replication. First, a website dedicated to the project with links to the partner institutions will be developed. The website will detail the progress of the project and provide guidelines and resources for replicating successful strategies at other institutions.

The results will also be disseminated through presentations and publications at national engineering and general educational conferences, and through publications directed at national audiences such as the Chronicle of Higher Education and Academe, as well as the engineering literature.


Underlying the design of project activities is a firm commitment to the integration of research and education throughout the period of undergraduate study leading to an Engineering degree. This commitment is reflected in (a) the infusion of high-interest research topics as well as research experiences into first- and second-level courses; (b) expansion of opportunities for freshmen and sophomores as well as new transfers to participate as research apprentices in faculty laboratories; and (c) an emphasis on research preparation and familiarization with research opportunities as part of pre-transfer summer and academic year experiences.


All of the participating colleges have significant enrollments of students drawn from groups under-represented in STEM professions. With the broad goal of increasing graduation rates, project activities, if successful, offer both new learning opportunities to a very diverse group of students and the potential for increasing through their participation the diversity of the engineering workforce.