San Diego, Calif., Oct 7, 2016 – The National Science Foundation has awarded the University of California San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering just over $800,000 to implement a new scholarship program aimed at increasing the academic success of low-income (PELL-eligible) engineering students. The award is part of the “Redshirt in Engineering Consortium”.
Redshirt programs, in which a first-year college athlete is given a year to prepare to compete at the university level, are common in athletics. In 2009, the University of Colorado Boulder created the innovative concept of “redshirting” in engineering to offer students from underserved backgrounds an extra year of preparation for a college career in engineering.
Six universities including the University of California San Diego; Boise State University; University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; University of Washington; Washington State University; and the University of Colorado, Boulder are now coming together to establish The Redshirt in Engineering Consortium. The six members will administer scholarships and academic support to a total of approximately 800 students across the program. While not all programs in the consortium are aiming for extra time for the degree, all programs will be providing support in math, study skills, professional development, time management, and career planning.
“There will be an emphasis on strengthening math skills,” said Pamela Cosman, Associate Dean for Students of the Jacobs School of Engineering, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and UC San Diego PI for the NSF award. “Engineering and computer science curricula are built on a foundation of math, but we’ve found that many students who are eager to become engineers or computer scientists need additional support initially to succeed. We don’t want calculus courses to be pushing talented students out of engineering.”
At UC San Diego, the funds will go toward scholarships, summer programs, faculty and industry mentorship, and other academic support programs for a cohort of 25-30 low-income students each year.
“There’s a big overlap with what we’re already doing to further student success,” said Cosman. “This grant gives us the opportunity to expand or create new programs within the IDEA Student Center, which is already providing comprehensive support to undergraduate engineering students.