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Recruits at HBCU's.

Although a record number of minorities received engineering degrees in 1991, only a third of all minority students who enroll actually graduate with a degree, according to a study conducted by the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME).

Only 35.6% of black, Hispanic and American Indian engineering students graduate, compared with 68.4% of white students. The study, Minority Graduation Rates: Comparative Performance of American Engineering Schools, raises concerns about America's ability to produce a diverse technical work force.

NACME President George Campbell warns that if this trend continues, it will impact America's ability to compete globally. "The quality of jobs available to Americans depends on how well prepared we are as a nation to contribute to emerging technologies," he says.

Changing the trend won't be easy. Raymond B. Landis, dean of engineering and technology at California State University, Los Angeles, and author of the study Retention By Design: Achieving Excellence in Minority Engineering Education, says, "the primary factors that impede the success of minority students in engineering... are ethnic isolation, lack of peer support, lack of role models and low faculty expectations." Lack of financial aid is also a factor.

One effort that hopes to create more potential engineers is the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP). DAPCEP enrolls 4,000 middle school students in a rigorous, but fun curriculum that emphasizes science and math. Similar programs have sprouted up in New York, Atlanta and California. Susan Wasson, a DAPCEP instructor, says, "Most students have a negative perception of science and math. If you can turn that attitude around, you've won half the battle." Organizers say that at least 1,000 DAPCEP graduates have gone on to enroll in college, with many of them becoming engineers.

NACME, the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) also have programs that help develop black engineers. Call NACME at 212-279-2626; DAPCEP at 313-831-3050; NSBE at 703549-2207; or write NOBCChE c/o Howard University, P.O. Box 5, Washington, DC 20059.

--Jason T. Harris
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Title Annotation:historically black colleges and universities
Author:Brown, Luther
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Oct 1, 1992
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