The College of Engineering Diversity Affairs Office has received a $500,000 grant from General Electric Co. to increase the recruitment, retention and graduation rates of under-represented students. Payable over five years, the funds will specifically target female and minority high school students living in and around Milwaukee.
“Undergraduate engineering programs in the United States are experiencing a decline in minority enrollments,” said Alem Asres, assistant dean of diversity affairs. “Aggressive, well-funded interventions such as this grant will help us reverse this trend and maintain our technological leadership and economic strength by allowing more traditionally under-represented student populations to become engineers and scientists.”
The grant gives the college the “financial security to run an effective pre-college program and offer full cycle, limited tuition and book scholarship for at least 10 traditionally underrepresented students,” Asres said. “It’s the carrot we’ve been looking for. There’s a lot of competition for these students and this gives us a much-needed edge.”
- Key areas targeted by the grant include:
- Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE): Three $5,000 grants will be given annually to students taking part in this eight-week program, which uses hands-on research projects to test their interests in scientific careers.
- Engineering Summer Program (ESP): Each year, $42,000 will support this program for college-bound high school students considering an engineering major.
- GE Full-Cycle Scholarships: Ten qualified students will be awarded $3,265 per year to cover the cost of in-state tuition, books and supplies.
Other funds will go toward informational publications, recruitment travel, professional seminars, on-site industrial experiences, and program assessment.
Prior to this grant, the College of Engineering had formed a healthy research and recruiting relationship with General Electric and its business unit, GE Medical Systems. For example, GE granted the college $100,000 for faculty development in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the family foundation of Philip D. Reed, GE’s former CEO, donated $2.4 million to establish the Reed Center for Photonics. Additionally, more than 200 college alumni are employed by GE, including more than 40 by GE Medical Systems.