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 project aims to achieve a goal consistent with that articulated for the STEP Program – to increase the number of students receiving associate and baccalaureate degrees in engineering. The partner institutions, representing both community and senior colleges within the City University of New York, aspire to create learning opportunities and an overall climate of support, following a longitudinal path from freshman to first semester after transfer, that achieves the following specific objectives: (1) Increase in the number of students enrolling in, retained in and graduating from Bachelors degree programs in Engineering; (2) Improved preparation in academic skill areas providing the foundation for success in upper division Engineering coursework; (3) Enhanced readiness for research participation at the upper division level in Engineering; and (4) More seamless and successful transitions between community and senior college engineering programs

Project activities will include: (1) Coordination and improvement of early required courses. As one of the keystones of the proposed project, the partner institutions will work together to redesign three lower division STEM courses per year to make these courses functionally identical in terms of learning outcomes and generally more effective in promoting student mastery. This will include integration of collaborative, small-group work into first- and second-level STEM courses; infusion of high-interest research topics into more general presentations of science, mathematics and engineering fundamentals; and use of new technology tools to give students access to visual representations of STEM concepts that clarify understanding and to create virtual learning communities. (2) Research training, including expansion of research opportunities in faculty laboratories for freshmen and sophomore students and a new summer research program for pre-transfer students. (3) Connecting campus cultures, including a summer orientation week for transfer students and design competitions linking senior and community college students.

Evaluation of project outcomes will begin with funding and extend across the project period, emphasizing both formative and summative assessment approaches. Strategies demonstrated to be effective will be disseminated to audiences both within the City University of New York and to national audiences of science and engineering educators.

What is the proposed intellectual merit of the proposed activity? The proposed project will depend, for its impact, on a combination of interventions addressing content learning and motivational needs of students who aspire to an engineering degree, but face the challenges of early preparation and transfer. By combining approaches with demonstrated success and building an activity plan that uses outcomes assessment as a core design and evaluation strategy, project leaders expect to achieve synergies of outcomes.

What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity? The project will have several important outcomes that extend beyond the specific perimeters of planned activities and participants: (1) early, improved coursework will enhance the learning of a broad range of students, at participating schools and elsewhere, not just those intending to be engineers; (2) the participating institutions intend to collaborate on other initiatives, beyond the proposed project; (3) both the project itself and replications at other institutions serving significant numbers of minority students will expand the participation of underrepresented groups in STEM professions; and (4) broad dissemination of important outcomes to diverse audiences is planned, using conventional and electronic communication options.