Institutes & Research


Integrated Pathways of Excellence for Seamless Transition of Engineering Minority Students (IPE-STEMS)

Integrated Pathways of Excellence for Seamless Transition of Engineering Minority Students
Funded by National Science Foundation (October 2019-September 2024) -Award Number: 1928611

Principal Investigator:
Dr. Afzel Noore, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs

Co-Principal Investigators:
Dr. Matthew Alexander (Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering);
Dr. Mahesh Hosur (Associate Dean for Graduate Affairs and Research);
Dr. Hua Li (Professor, Industrial Engineering);

Other Personnel:
Dr. Breanna Bailey (Associate Professor, Civil Engineering);
Dr. David Hicks (Associate Professor, Computer Science);
Dr. Kai Jin (Professor, Industrial Engineering);
Mr. Rajashekar Mogiligidda (Lecturer, Mechanical Engineering).

External Evaluator:
Dr. Michael Preuss (Executive Director, West Texas Office of Evaluation and Research).

Internal Advisory Board:
Dr. G. Allen Rasmussen (Dean of Graduate Studies, Vice President for Research);
Dr. Jaya Goswami (Associate Vice President, Division of Academic Affairs);
Dr. Dolores Guerrero (Dean, College of Arts and Sciences).

External Advisory Board:
Dr. Nora Garza (Vice President for Resource Development, Laredo College);
Dr. Mohammad Qazi (Professor of Mathematics and Assistant Dean College of Arts and Sciences at Tuskegee University);
Dr. David Murphy (Retired Engineer, Celanese Chemical Company; Former Professor of Practice and Interim Department Chair, Chemical and Natural Gas Engineering)

Honorary Consultant:
Dr. Agnes Flores (Director, Title V I-CARE grant)

With support from the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI Program), this Track 1 project aims to develop and test an innovative model that integrates various levels of mentoring, academic coaching, summer research experience and outside classroom opportunities to improve learning, retention and preparation of minority students, especially Hispanics and Women in Engineering. Hispanics make up 18.2% of US population and that percentage has grown by nearly 50%. However, they make up only 7% of workforce. There is significant drop in the percentage of Hispanics obtaining college degree or more compared to those obtaining high school degrees. Lack of culture of support, lack of educational resources, academic deficiencies, poor sense of belonging, lack of STEM information to enter STEM fields are identified as the challenges that preclude success of Latinx STEM students. Texas A & M University- Kingsville (TAMUK) college of engineering is uniquely placed to play a key role in addressing these challenges as nearly half of TAMUK students are first-generation college students, with two-third of them being of Hispanic descent and over 70% underrepresented minorities. To solve these unique challenges, this project will provide activities for freshman/sophomore students and those transferring from 2-year colleges, during summer time and academic year that will motivate and prepare them to be successful in STEM careers. Expected long-term outcomes of this project include increased interest in STEM, increased STEM knowledge and skills, increased number of individuals pursuing STEM careers among Hispanics; consequently, increasing diversity in engineering workforce.

Specific research questions that are addressed through this project include: 1) In what ways can student engagements in high-impact enrichment activities and personalized support services lead to increased student recruitment, retention and persistence? 2) How do co-curricular activities help in increasing students’ self-efficacy and successful degree completion? Specific aims of the project are to 1) develop and implement interventions that will help increase interest in STEM disciplines, 2) Create an effective model through bridge programs to improve college preparedness among students, 3) Assist at-risk student in improving their understand of STEM gateway math and science courses, and 4) Create opportunities for experiential learning though summer research, internships and co-curricular activities. It is expected that these activities will increase academic competencies, increase self-efficacy, increase tolerance for failure, increased level of engagements, improve critical thinking among students. The project will engage students to synergistically weave research and education while providing several enriching opportunities that are ideal for students with diverse backgrounds. More importantly, students who have experienced these proactive personalized support services and enriching activities can make a confident transition to the workforce as qualified next generation STEM professionals and leaders. The project team will actively disseminate and share the project findings with various stakeholders through project website, presentations and publications at conferences and journal articles, and social media. The HSI Program aims to enhance undergraduate STEM education and build capacity at HSIs. Projects supported by the HSI Program will also generate new knowledge on how to achieve these aims.


 Logic Model for the Texas A&M NSF-HSI: IPE-STEMS Program

Activities in Academic Year 2019-2020

The activities for the program started in Fall 2019 semester with Dr. Noore mentoring other faculty members (Dr. Alexander, Dr. Hicks, and Mr. Mogiligidda) into modifying their GEEN classes taught to Freshman Engineering students in the departments of Chemical and Natural Gas Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Mechanical and Industrial Engineering through engagement of hands on activities. The students carried out design group projects thereby learning to work in group at the nascent stages of their engineering disciplines.

There were plans to visit high schools and community colleges in Spring 2020 semester, and also host a workshop to bring to campus potential undergraduate and transfer students to introduce them to the HSI project and brief them about various co-curricular activities available on campus. During this event, it was the intention to recruit these students for the summer bridge program where in they would spend about 4 weeks on campus and participate in various activities, including research activities with faculty mentors. This would also help them become acclimatized with the campus life at TAMUK. However, plans for these activities were severely affected by the global pandemic resulting from COVID-19. We had to think about alternate ways of offering the bridge program. Several of the faculty members led by Drs. Hosur and Alexander devised a summer bridge program in which 37 students from TAMUK and various community colleges participated. Pre- and Post-Participation surveys were conducted by External Evaluator Dr. Preuss to assess the effectiveness of the program.

In addition to the Bridge Program, other major activity involved faculty members from Math, Physics and Chemistry developing curricular materials related to implementation of STEM modules in engineering preparation courses that include College Algebra (MATH 1314)-Dr. Zuo, Trigonometry (MATH 1316)-Dr. Hodis, General Inorganic Chemistry (CHEM 1311)-Dr. Liu, and University Physics I (PHYS 2325)-Dr. Kalakhety. Ten or more modules are created for each of the courses. These new modules will be implemented for the first time in fall of 2020. Development of modules was coordinated by Drs. Li and Jin. About 15 peer-mentor students are recruited to help the faculty members from Science and Math disciplines in implementing these modules.

Dr. Preuss has been in constant touch with all the faculty members involved with the grant and has prepared evaluation report using the input received from them. Click here for the External Evaluation Report.