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March 6, 2003

Engineering program aims at minority, disadvantaged students

To help acclimate qualified minority and disadvantaged students to college life, Pitt’s School of Engineering is implementing a program that will help students attain a stronger educational background and provide them with positive role models.

Sylvanus Nwosu, assistant dean for diversity at the engineering school, created the Pitt Engineering Career Access Program (PECAP). Beginning this summer, PECAP will work to increase the recruitment and retention of qualified underrepresented students — African American, Hispanic, Native American, women and academically or economically disadvantaged students.

The program has three components — the pre-college Investing Now and Critical and Analytical Reasoning Enrichment (CARE) programs, the Excel Summer Engineering Academy (SEA) and the Minority Engineering Mentoring Program (MEMP).

Investing Now is a comprehensive college preparatory program; CARE focuses on students with an interest in engineering.

Graduates of the CARE program and other recent high school graduates planning to major in engineering will be invited to attend SEA, which helps to ease the transition from high school to college. Students needing academic enhancement will pursue courses in science, mathematics and technical communication, while students who qualify will work directly with faculty members and graduate students on summer research projects.

Priority acceptance to SEA is given to students who plan to attend Pitt; students who attend SEA are given special consideration when applying to Pitt for admission.

Once at Pitt, PECAP students will have peer, faculty and professional mentors through MEMP. Continuous performance evaluations will be done to ensure that difficulties are identified and rectified quickly. Participation in research projects, attendance at career workshops, team building and diversity education programs are important components.

MEMP, which also encourages advanced engineering education, pairs students with a variety of mentors.

The CARE program will partner with high school math and science teachers to discuss curriculum issues in public schools.

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