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ExxonMobil involved in rewarding universities for minority retentions efforts

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Exxon Mobil Corporation and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) have announced the inaugural winners of the Impact Award, a recognition that honors universities for retaining under represented minority students enrolled in engineering programs on their campuses.

Purdue University, Virginia Tech and the University of Texas at Austin each received a US$ 10 000 award from ExxonMobil and NSBE to boost their efforts. All the recipients were recognised at an event held on April 13 at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC.

The Impact Award was devised by ExxonMobil and NSBE in recognition of the fact that under represented minorities together make up just 10% of Americans working in the science and engineering field. This number would need to triple to match the share of minorities in the US population. Underlining the need for retention is the figure that approximately 60% of African Americans who start STEM degrees change their major.

The Impact Award recognises collegiate programs that are not only making significant inroads in retaining minority students to programs relating to engineering, but also have the ability to easily replicate the programs at other universities:

  • Purdue University: Program focuses on outreach, recruitment and retention efforts and offers support to entering freshmen as well as returning engineering students. The university has also implemented an Academic Boot Camp, which is geared toward helping students adjust to differences between high school and college and offering assistance with first year engineering courses.
  • Virginia Tech: Centre for Enhancement of Engineering Diversity focuses on ensuring that freshman students successfully transition to college. CEED implements a summer bridge program, freshman peer mentoring and residential living-learning communities, all of which contribute to the academic, personal and professional success of their students.
  • University of Texas at Austin: Equal Opportunity in Engineering initiative focuses on academic success and personal growth and includes First Year Interest Groups (FIGs), that serve to assist students in building support networks with other students and faculty members. FIG cohorts also share a class schedule and weekly seminars to encourage relationship building among peers.

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