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Project 1999: Partnership in Recruitment of Anglo/Minority Girls into Engineering

Keywords: Women in Engineering, Minorities in Engineering

Principal Investigators:

Nancy Bottone Hellman (hellman@ecs.umass.edu)
Program Director, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Elizabeth Capifali
Program Coordinator, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Holyoke Public Schools
Cleveland Burton
American Saw & Mfg. Co.


The underrepresentation of women and minorities in science and engineering remains a national concern which the Engineering Academy of Southern New England proposes to address as one of the four goals of the NSF grant. Specifically, the Academy designed programs and activities to encourage underrepresented female minorities, and Anglo female women students to study and eventually practice in the engineering profession.

Towards that end, the University of Masschusetts at Amherst submitted a proposal which focused on female Anglo and female minority students, grades 8-12. This proposal built upon the present activites of the Women in Engineering and the Minority Engineering programs in the College of Engineering and worked towards the development of a new model. This model includes a partnership with industry and schools. The idea for this proposal is supported in the research being carried out by AAAS, Department of Energy and NSF. They have targeted programs in math and science education for females and minority females which no longer focus on these populations as "somehow deficient, in need of alteration, so that they can fit the existing environments in science and engineering." (Dr. Jane Stutsman, NSF, Subcommittee hearings.) Their focus is on eliminating barriers and providing climates which assist girls and women in developing confidence, and academic and professional success which can lead them towards careers normally seen as non-traditional and "male-dominated."

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) established a task force in 1989 to examine efforts made by higher education institutions in the U.S. to increase the participation of women, non-Asian minorities and people with physical disabilites in science and engineering. The findings and recommendations for programs targeted at women and minorities form the basis for Project 1999. (See Investing in Human Potential: Science and Engineering at the Crossroads, Executive Summary, AAAS, 1991.)

*The term Anglo girls is an official term being used by the Holyoke public school system to identify non-minority girls.


The objectives of Project 1999 are to increase the pool of Anglo and minority girls eligible to attend two and four-year colleges, majoring in engineering, and ultimately, working in the engineering professions. Specifically, Project 1999 is design on the recommendations provided by the AAAS task force study published in 1991. These include:

Project Evaluation

The project evaluation will obtain information on the impact of Project 1999 in introducing Anglo and minority girls to the idea of engineering as a possible career choice. The evaluation will take place in four stages. Phase I will focus on the perceptions and reactions of the selected middle school students during the Summer Program 1. Phase II focuses on the impact of the program on the students following the Summer Program 1. Phase III will re-examine the issues identified in Phase II during the students' second summer Program II, pre- and post-tests. The final evaluation, Phase IV, will focus on the long tern effects of the 4 1/2 year program as these students would enter college degree programs at two and four-year colleges. (A possible Phase V would track the candidates who go on to work in engineering corporations.)

The information obtained from each evaluation phase will help to "fine-tune" the subsequent phases of the program to meet initial objectives.

Specific short term and long term objectives to be evaluated are:

Short term

  1. The success in expanding educational and recruitment efforts into a new geographic area with a high percentage of minority girls as indicated by the number who are willing to join in Project 1999;
  2. The pre-program and post-program understandings of the engineering profession as a viable career option for Anglo and minority girls who are selected for the project;
  3. The sucess in involving minority parents as support mechanisms for their daughters as indicated in the number who enter and complete Project 1999, and go on to two and four year colleges;
  4. The inportance of student mentors and corporate engineers as role models in helping provide the necessary climate and support for the students;
  5. The use of a hands-on teaching/learning environment and how it assists students in developing confidence and skills which form a foundation for success in high school program.

Long term

  1. The number of minority and Anglo girls/young women who will complete a four year high school program;
  2. The number who will be inspired to take the pre-college math and science courses in preparation for admission to two- ar four-year colleges;
  3. The number who will be admitted to full-time enrollment in two-four year colleges;
  4. The number who will be enrolled in college and complete academic programs which include majors in engineering, math and science;
  5. The number who will graduate from two-four year colleges with majors in engineering, and;
  6. The number who will go on to work in engineering corporations.
Project 1999 will be deemed successful if 1) at least 15-20% of the original middle school candidates enter college in the year 1999, 2) if 20% complete two-four year college degrees in engineering, science, or in math, and 3) if 20% go on to work in engineering corporations as technicians or engineers.

Project Transfer Plans

The EASNE Diversity Council model allows for an easy transfer of specific program activities and/or total projects such as Project 1999; the members of the council are automatic resources to each other. The council's initiatives will provide a broader based network of information and ideas to all its participants.

All written materials of Project 1999 will be incorporated into a final report and distributed to the academic institutions on the Diversity Council, as well as others seeking this information.

Activities which are anticipated to evolve from the Project are:

  1. educational workshops for middle/high school teachers, administrators and parents;
  2. presentations by faculty, students and industrial reps at high schools in Holyoke;
  3. use of professional videos produced by engineering societies, community organizations, industry and the University;
  4. computer learning modules developed by the University and Magnet school;
  5. tours of different industrial sites and the University, and;
  6. presentations at national conferences such as the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Women in Engineering Program Advocates Network (WEPAN), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE).

Project 1999 Photo Gallery


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