The Diversity & Outreach Council has concentrated its efforts in a specific theme area each year. The theme areas originate with the need to address the immediate needs of the College. The themes carry forward each year as we build a culture in the college of academic preparation, motivation, and success leading to a vibrant and diverse engineering community that is ready to address the needs of our changing world.
Long-term partnerships to motivate, prepare, educate, and support
outstanding, qualified students to enter the engineering field.
The University of Michigan, College of Engineering enjoys an excellent and long-standing reputation for its commitment to supporting the highest quality faculty, facilities, students, and scholars. As the College of Engineering pushes existing boundaries, expands its reach, and enhances its stature in engineering and developing technologies, its leaders have increasingly stressed the vital importance of developing lasting relationships that increase public awareness regarding the importance and integrative nature of engineering.
Through the work of the Diversity and Outreach Council (DOC), the Office of Engineering Outreach and Engagement has been established as a coordinating function. Through inclusive partnerships and multiple means, the office’s primary goal is to motivate, prepare, educate, and support outstanding, qualified students to enter the engineering field. With their partners in education, they plan to both create original and unique educational outreach programs and take advantage of ongoing projects that boast the same high quality and adhere to the same high standards as the research on which they are based.
Bridging the gap from K–12 to Michigan Engineering success
To assure the success of all students who enter the College of Engineering, the DOC undertook the development of a program to create an academic, social, and economic support system for student retention and success in science, engineering, and mathematics regardless of socioeconomic class, race, gender, quality of K–12 preparation, or other cultural factors. The goal of the program is to improve not only the graduation rates and but also the academic achievement of students with high potential who might not otherwise thrive in a large, decentralized, competitive research university. The resulting is the M-STEM Academy—a well-defined pathway from high school through the sophomore year that consists of the following primary components:
- identification of incoming students with high potential
- an intensive summer bridge program before the freshman year
- holistic and intensive academic advising/coaching, study groups, and
- contiguous living arrangements
- a community service component
- academic research opportunities
- scholarship support
- research and assessment
Creating a diverse, multicultural learning and working environment
The College of Engineering is recognized internationally for the quality of its education and research, and it has achieved national prominence for its commitment to creating a truly diverse and multicultural learning and working environment for its students, staff, and faculty. We believe that increasing the diversity of our Michigan Engineering student body provides direct and positive benefits to our students by increasing the richness of discussion and debate that diverse student views brings. However, with our efforts to increase diversity of our student body, come challenges in creating positive learning environments that recognize and address the complexities of learning in a diverse, multicultural environment. Research suggests that faculty can indeed create a learning environment in which all students experience a high likelihood of academic success. We can do this through the way we structure our courses, through the way we formulate problems, lectures, and exams, through the way we organize student teams, and through the way we engage students in and out of the classroom. In order to engage our faculty in a comprehensive and sustained effort to identify and adopt teaching practices that are effective for a diverse, multicultural, 21st-century student body, we have created a mechanism by which “faculty teach faculty” about the relevant research findings regarding the different ways in which our students learn, and how we as faculty influence student learning through the environments that we create in our classrooms, laboratories, and teams.
The DOC is currently working to establish the Academic Practices for a Positive Learning Environment (APPLE) committee to engage faculty in serious and ongoing discussions about learning environments that faculty create and can influence within the College. APPLE will help faculty acquire both the tools and skills that will help all students to achieve academic success at their highest ability. The success of this work will be measured, at first, by the adoption of new pedagogies and evidence of increased faculty activism in developing positive learning environments. In the longer term, success towards meeting the goals will be measured by the extent to which gaps in academic achievement and retention between different groups of students are closed.
2008–2009 “One Community”
Many Cultures—One Community
The College of Engineering is taking a leadership role in extended the University’s global reach. Through proactive international programs and learning experiences, the College has made it a priority to develop tomorrow’s global engineer today. This thrust is highlighted by the arrival of 70+ Chinese transfer students from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. With the intent to dramatically increase the international experience of all students within the College, the DOC is now working to bring create an environment where all cultures are acknowledged, appreciated, and celebrated while at the same time coming together to create a single community. Key projects for this year include establishing a learning journey to emphasis cultural learning and awareness and creation of new curricula on multicultural competency. This and other related activities came together in a major college diversity summit in fall of 2009.