This project will contribute to the national need for well-educated engineers by supporting the recruitment, retention, and graduation of high-achieving, low-income students with demonstrated financial need. Over its five-year duration, the project will provide two-year scholarships to 24 undergraduate and 8 graduate (Masters) students at the University of Missouri. Scholars will pursue Bachelor or Master of Science degrees in Civil Engineering. During their first and second years, undergraduate Scholars will receive comprehensive support in a set of eight required foundational courses, including calculus, basic sciences, and engineering analysis. The Missouri Department of Transportation, HDR Engineering, Inc., and Kiewit Construction will provide Scholars with internship, co-op, and job-shadowing opportunities to expand students' workforce training and experience. Scholars will receive additional institutional support during their junior and senior years. Optional research with faculty mentors will create opportunities for scholars to transition to University of Missouri graduate programs in civil engineering. Graduate Scholars will work with faculty advisors on research projects that study smart and sustainable infrastructure systems. As a component of its broader impact, this project will build a lasting institutional infrastructure and networks that will continue to generate new knowledge about how to support the success, retention, transfer, graduation, and entry of students into the STEM workforce or graduate study. The intellectual merit of this project includes its development of a comprehensive approach for early, active support of undergraduates in foundational engineering courses. This approach is expected to result in increased persistence and timely graduation of students with degrees in civil engineering, thus preparing students to excel in the STEM workforce or graduate studies.

The overall goal of this project is to increase STEM degree completion of low-income, high-achieving undergraduates with demonstrated financial need to obtain degrees in civil engineering and enter the workforce or graduate programs in STEM fields. The recruitment effort will emphasize first-time-college students, underrepresented minorities, females, and transfer students, thus providing a diverse cohort with the opportunity to enter and successfully graduate with an ABET-accredited civil engineering degree. Specific objectives include: (i) providing undergraduates with early intervention and comprehensive support in foundational courses; (ii) generating knowledge to advance the understanding of how factors and evidence-based curricular and co-curricular activities affect student success, retention, transfer, academic/career pathways, and graduation in STEM; (iii) mentoring undergraduate scholars to matriculate into the University’s graduate civil engineering program; and, (iv) sustaining all of the objectives beyond the award period by building institutional capacity for support of academically high-performing students from low-income backgrounds. The project intends to implement a synergistic strategy for student success that builds on existing institutional resources and develops new project-specific support mechanisms, including early assessment and timely intervention. Knowledge generation efforts will advance understanding of self-efficacy, cognitive and non-cognitive aspects of student experiences and success measures, and "sense of community" indicators. The project will include an investigation of how these evidence-based practices and synergistic strategies affect student outcomes. Both internal and external evaluations include formative and summative assessments to enable ongoing project improvement and to determine the effectiveness of the approaches used. This project is funded by NSF's Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics program, which seeks to increase the number of low-income academically talented students with demonstrated financial need to earn degrees in STEM fields. It also aims to improve the education of future STEM workers, and to generate knowledge about academic success, retention, transfer, graduation, and academic/career pathways of low-income students.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE)
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Eric Sheppard
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University of Missouri-Columbia
United States
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