Overcoming Barriers for Transfer Students in the Engineering Pipeline

  • Sturdevant Rees, Paula P.L.S. (PI)
  • Leonard, William W.J. (CoPI)
  • Ford, David (CoPI)
  • Brena, Sergio S.F. (CoPI)
  • Marquard, Jenna J. (CoPI)
  • Fan, Wei W. (CoPI)

Grant Details


The scholarship program in the College of Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will increase the number of community college students with demonstrated academic talent and financial need who transfer, complete baccalaureate degrees in engineering, and enter the STEM workforce. The project will begin with the recruitment of a group of 22 new community college transfer students. The selected students, to be known as S-STEM Scholars, will receive up to $6,000 per year in scholarships and participate in a comprehensive program of academic, professional and personal support. Nearly half of the students who earn baccalaureate degrees in science and engineering in the US complete part of their education at a community college. Programs designed to support community college students to transition to, and graduate from, four-year engineering programs will increase the number of engineering graduates entering the workforce. Scholarships for academically strong engineering students, who may not otherwise be able to afford college, will increase the number of engineering graduates prepared to promote innovation and competiveness in national and regional technology-intensive industries.

The enrichment and support programs build upon effective practices known to help increase retention and degree completion among community college students that transfer to four-year baccalaureate degree programs. The program will include activities to promote faculty-student interaction, offer both peer-to-peer and industry mentoring through a Connect for Success Mentoring Network, provide several workshops focused on academic success, and deliver a suite of career development workshops customized for the S-STEM Scholars. This program design will help to overcome known barriers to persistence of transfer students from community college. These barriers are lack of engagement on campus, underdeveloped professional identity and career goals, incomplete study habits, fewer opportunities to gain practical competence, and the need to earn money through non-academically related work. Assessment and evaluation will provide insight into the retention benefits of student scholarships, learning communities, career development activities, and faculty mentoring/advising. Lessons learned and effective practices that emerge from the program evaluation data will be disseminated widely to the engineering education community and help enlarge the knowledge base regarding attributes and practices of successful scholarship programs of this type.

Effective start/end date07/1/1506/30/21


  • National Science Foundation: $632,369.00


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