Helping Underserved Students Succeed in Engineering

Great article from UW's College of Engineering about their STARS program.
"It is a social justice issue that economically and educationally-disadvantaged students be given every opportunity to pursue high-value UW degrees, such as those offered by the College of Engineering."

Eve Riskin, professor of electrical engineering and the College's associate dean for diversity and access
STARS is a program designed to increase the number of students from economically- and educationally-disadvantaged backgrounds who graduate with UW engineering degrees by providing a strong foundation through extra academic support, mentoring and funding.

Historically, fewer than half of the students who enter the UW intending to study engineering complete engineering degrees. The success rate is nearly 20% lower for students from low-income and underserved communities. Often, these students have difficulty gaining admission to engineering departments due to inadequate high school preparation.
How it Works
To think in terms of college athletics, STARS offers participating students a "redshirt year:" students spend five years at the UW, using the first year to develop the skills they'll need to succeed in engineering.

At the UW, 32 incoming freshmen are invited to participate annually. Entry into the program isn’t based solely on academic performance, as STARS program director Sonya Cunningham explains, "It's not just about how smart you are but how hard you're willing to work." Students must tackle a workload drastically different than high school.
Students develop study skills through regular meetings with STARS advisers, participation in study groups and by spending time at the UW's Engineering Academic Center. They take classes together as a cohort and look to each other for support. STARS students are required to live on-campus their first two years and are placed in the same residence halls. 


old salt said…
Dr Riskin is an amazing woman destroying barriers, supporting under served students & staff, & holding the old guard accountable. It is hard to imagine how first gen students or those with weak high school experience could compete in the weed out pre-engineering classes at UW without support. I hope the STARS program finds funds to expand and that continuing evolution makes those classes more accessible to diverse students.

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