Exploring the Success of HBCUs Development of Blacks Earning Engineering and Computing Graduate Degrees

NSF Award #: 1923229

Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have played a critical role in the production of African American and Black students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). For graduate degrees, between 2002 and 2011, the National Science Foundation found that HBCUs comprised all ten of the top baccalaureate-origin institutions for Blacks who went on to obtain a doctorate degree in science and engineering. The predominance of HBCUs in the preparation of Black students for graduate programs suggests a need to better understand this under-explored success case and, in particular, the practices of these institutions that support prospective Black students as they explore and apply to graduate school.


 RAPID: The Impact of COVID-19 on Broadening Participation in Engineering at HBCUs

NSF Award #: 2031221

COVID-19 spurs an unprecedented global crisis disrupting life as we know it, affecting the overall economy, and abruptly transmuting the traditional methods, experiences and abilities of higher education institutions, faculty, staff and students. With strict social distancing measures and shelter-in-place orders by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and state governments across the country, colleges and universities are forced to abruptly transition to forms of remote instruction. For Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs),  historic inequity from state and federal funding sources have exacerbated the negative impact of COVID-19. While HBCUs enroll a significant percentage of first-generation and low-income students, they award a disproportionately greater share of degrees to minority students in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Specifically, HBCU engineering programs graduated 20.3% of all bachelor's degrees awarded to Blacks and permanent residents in engineering in the U.S. between 2002 and 2012, although they only make up 0.02% of all ABET accredited programs. High-touch student support and a sense of belonging displayed at HBCUs, through faculty and peer mentoring, in addition to a myriad of supplemental programming, have been credited with the heightened sense of community reported by students, faculty and staff.  As HBCU stakeholders are dealing with multiple challenges at once, this project allows us to capture their experience during this time.

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 RAPID: Understanding the Impact of Abrupt Changes to Instructional Methods on Underrepresented Engineering Students

NSF Award #: 2029564

The 2020 global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has forced higher education institutions in the United States to immediately stop face-to-face teaching and transition to virtual instruction. While this transition has not been easy for any instructor, the shift to online learning has been especially difficult for students in STEM courses, particularly engineering, which has a strong practical/laboratory component. This project investigates how the pandemic is impacting students historically underrepresented in engineering. There is an urgency to collect this data in the midst of the crisis. Through the use of an online data collection platform, SenseMaker, short stories will be collected from underrepresented engineering students to describe how they are experiencing the COVID-19 crisis during the transition to online learning. These stories will be used to help provide institutions with tools necessary to ensure minority students are not left out of decisions made with the majority in mind.

FIU Women of CEC

Women of CEC Qualitative and Quantitative Research Project

The Fletcher Research Group is supporting CD-SSEC to expand research on their current programs sponsored by industry partners. This allows their group to better understand the experiences of women within the college of engineering and computing.  


OURS program led by the Center for Diversity and Student Success in Engineering and Computing (CD-SSEC)

The Fletcher Research Group is supporting CD-SSEC within College of Engineering and Computing to expand year-round undergraduate research opportunities for students and conducting research on their experiences for continuous improvement.