ENHANCING THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE PATHWAY TO ENGINEERING CAREERS
Mary C. Mattis and John Sislin, Editors
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
This project was supported by NSF Award No. DUE 0343405 between the National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering.
The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.
The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph Cicerone and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.
COMMITTEE ON ENHANCING THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE PATHWAY TO ENGINEERING CAREERS
James M. Rosser (Chair), President,
California State University, Los Angeles
Ashok Agrawal, Dean, Math, Science Engineering, and Technology,
St. Louis Community College
Warren Baker, President,
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
Richard Culver, Bartle Professor in Mechanical Engineering,
Binghamton University, State University of New York
Dan Dimitriu, Engineering Program Coordinator,
San Antonio College
Jack R. Lohmann, Associate Provost,
Georgia Institute of Technology
Margaret Weeks, Adjunct Program Manager,
Aaron Wenger, Professor Emeritus,
Itasca Community College
Vera Zdravkovich, Vice President for Instruction,
Prince Georges Community College
National Academy of Engineering Staff
Patricia Mead, Study Director (until May 2004)
Mary Mattis, Study Director (from May 2004)
Nathan Kahl, Senior Project Assistant
Carol R. Arenberg, NAE Senior Editor
National Research Council Staff
Peter Henderson, Director,
Board on Higher Education and Workforce
John Sislin, Program Officer
The important role of community colleges in educating engineers is not well known to the public, or even to the engineering community. In fact, 20 percent of engineering degree holders began their academic careers with at least 10 credits from community colleges, and 40 percent of the recipients of engineering bachelor and masters degrees in 1999 and 2000 attended community colleges. In addition, community colleges offer unique opportunities for increasing diversity in the engineering workforce.
The role of community colleges in engineering education could be expanded if a number of steps were taken to improve transfer partnerships with four-year engineering programs. This report describes how some community colleges and four-year educational institutions have facilitated the transfer process for students transferring from two-year engineering-science programs to four-year engineering programs. The report also provides recommendations for improving transfers overall and otherwise enhancing the role of community colleges in educating engineers.
At the request of the National Science Foundation, the president of the National Academy of Engineering and the chair of the National Research Council appointed an ad hoc committee to design and oversee the study. The committee met four times in person and by teleconference to develop the study design and to hear expert testimony. The primary fact-finding activity was a workshop exploring the exemplary approaches of 24 transfer partnerships between two- and four-year colleges. The focus of the workshop was on transfer and articulation (policies and programs designed to foster transfer); recruitment and retention; curriculum, qual-
ity, and standards; diversity; and data collection. The committee’s deliberations, reflected in this report, were based on the results of the workshop, expert testimony, and a survey of the relevant literature. The final document also reflects the personal and professional experience and judgment of committee members. This study, funded by the National Science Foundation, was conceived as the first phase of a two-part project. Phase II, which is in the planning stages, will focus on one or more questions for future research identified in this report.
Many students, especially students from groups that are underrepresented in the engineering workforce, are increasingly turning to community colleges as a starting point for their postsecondary education. Yet many of them are not aware that they can earn a B.S. in engineering through the community college pathway. Informing middle-school and high-school students and their parents of the opportunities offered by community colleges will require a major campaign by community colleges, four-year educational institutions, engineering societies, and the state and federal agencies responsible for educational outcomes. Students and parents must be given assurances that community colleges and four-year programs will work together to provide seamless transfers from two-to four-year programs and offer a supportive educational environment that promotes the retention of students working toward [associate of science (A.S.) and bachelor of science (B.S.)] degrees in engineering. This report describes concrete examples of activities undertaken by community colleges and four-year educational institutions in support of these goals.
James M. Rosser, Chair
Committee on Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: George Boggs, American Association of Community Colleges; Roger Bowen, American Association of University Professors; George Campbell, Jr., Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science; Alfredo de los Santos, Arizona State University; Michael Gibbons, American Society for Engineering Education; Susan Hackwood, University of California at Riverside; Chen-Ching Liu, University of Washington; John Wadach, Monroe Community College; Jane Wellman, Institute for Higher Education Policy; and James West, Johns Hopkins University.
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Gerald Dinneen, Consultant. Appointed by the National Research Council, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures
and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
The production of this report was the result of work by the study committee over a sustained period of time. The committee was ably assisted by Patricia Mead, study director during the first part of the study; Mary Mattis, study director during the second half of the project; Peter Henderson, director of the Board on Higher Education and Workforce; John Sislin, program officer; and Nathan Kahl, senior project assistant.