Enrollment of Minority Freshman Engineering Students at Seven-Year HighNEW YORK
Propelled by the largest increase among first-year African American engineering majors in seven years, U.S. institutions enrolled a record 15,329 minority freshman engineering students last year, according to the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering Inc., (NACME). The previous high of 15,181 African American, American Indian and Latino students was set in 1992.
While celebrating this milestone, NACME president and CEO John Brooks Slaughter notes that the vitality of many groups whose work contributed to the increase is now under duress as the corporations that support them face economic challenges.
“A number of major companies, many of whom have long been engaged in the effort to diversify the engineering work force, are decreasing their contribution levels while our output is increasing,” Slaughter says. “After a few down years, we’re in turnaround mode. This is not the time for retreat, but for reinvestment. We need to increase the number of minority engineering freshman by more than 10 percent to build the diverse, world-class engineering work force the nation needs.”
NACME, which has been the nation’s largest private source of scholarships for minority engineering students for nearly 30 years, finds itself unable to support as many students as it has in the past, having suffered major setbacks such as the loss of a multiyear grant from the WorldCom Foundation.
“Like any other business, we’re having to make tough choices. We need not only to grow our donor base, but to also use what we have more strategically,” says Daryl E. Chubin, senior vice president for policy and research.
“We are focusing our efforts where we can achieve the greatest returns and looking to join with institutions that are committed to enrolling and graduating larger numbers of underrepresented minority engineering students,” Chubin says.
More than 100 institutions responded to a recent NACME invitation to participate in its undergraduate support program, according to the organization.
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