New Haven

UNH Collaboration Hopes to Foster a More Diverse Group of Future Engineers

25 full scholarships are available for this inaugural semester.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Education as we know it has had to evolve because of the pandemic, so why not make other changes to help students of today become more successful in the future?

A new University of New Haven initiative aims to support students of all backgrounds so that a more diverse group of people can thrive in engineering careers.

“We have a shortage of American trained engineers and we have a shortage of people of diverse backgrounds including women and of course, students from underrepresented groups like African American and Hispanic community members," said UNH President Steve Kaplan.

The university is teaming up with the company “Edge Pathways” to launch an online, one year program for passionate, creative, problem solving high school grads who are interested in an engineering career, but perhaps haven’t had the experience, education, or guidance to help them thrive at the college level. 

“The challenge is more than 50% of students that start STEM and engineering degrees never complete them and it’s often due to a lack of support,” said Dan Sommer, CEO & co-founder of Edge Pathways.

“Courses like calculus and chemistry can be challenging and that first year of college can make or break students.”

The Edge Scholars Program at University of New Haven is taught in collaboration with UNH professors and will support students with smaller class sizes, study groups, industry connections, mentors, and hands on learning.

“We hope through it to really improve the pipeline into engineering for these underrepresented groups,” said Ron Harichandran, Dean of the Tagliatela College of Engineering at the University of New Haven.   

When the students complete the Edge Scholars program, they can transfer into UNH’s engineering school or elsewhere with college credits.

“I’m convinced there’s very talented women and members of underrepresented groups that would thrive as engineers if they had the opportunity to break into engineering,” said Kaplan.

The goal is to change what our country’s classrooms and then boardrooms look like.

“It makes for better engineering solutions,” said Harichandran.

Right now, women represent 52% of the University of New Haven student population, but they only make up about 20 percent of engineering students. Kaplan said that’s on par with you’ll see at colleges around the country.

He says African Americans make up about 12 percent of the engineering school and Hispanic Americans represent 14 percent of that student population. Kaplan says these numbers are quite high compared to those across the country. In a 2015 American Society for Engineering Education study, black students represented 4% of engineer bachelor degrees, Hispanic 10.7%.

The Edge Scholars program plans to admit about 50 students for their inaugural fall semester and they hope to grow into the thousands of students within the first five years. 25 full scholarships are available for this inaugural semester.

Right now, current high school seniors who are graduating this spring or students who have already graduated can apply to the program. A minimum high school GPA of 3.0 is required.

To find out more information or to apply, click here. 

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