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Award Abstract #1317246

Collaborative Research: The Washington STate Academic RedShirt (STARS) in Engineering Program

Division Of Undergraduate Education
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Initial Amendment Date: May 7, 2013
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Latest Amendment Date: September 9, 2015
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Award Number: 1317246
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Award Instrument: Continuing grant
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Program Manager: Connie K. Della-Piana
DUE Division Of Undergraduate Education
EHR Direct For Education and Human Resources
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Start Date: June 1, 2013
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End Date: May 31, 2018 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $1,108,992.00
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Investigator(s): Eve Riskin riskin@ee.washington.edu (Principal Investigator)
Scott Winter (Co-Principal Investigator)
Sonya Cunningham (Co-Principal Investigator)
Dawn Wiggin (Former Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: University of Washington
4333 Brooklyn Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98195-0001 (206)543-4043
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NSF Program(s): Jobs Council,
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Program Reference Code(s): 8215, 9178, SMET, 005Z
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Program Element Code(s): 8281, 1536


This project is being supported under a special funding focus for STEP, "Graduate 10K+," an activity of the National Science Foundation, supported in part by donations from the Intel Foundation and the GE Foundation, to stimulate comprehensive action at universities and colleges to help increase the annual number of new B.S. graduates in engineering and computer science by 10,000 over the next decade.

The University of Washington (UW) and Washington State University (WSU) are collaborating in an activity to develop and implement the Washington State Academic RedShirt (STARS) program to increase the retention rates of economically and educationally disadvantaged students who are incoming freshmen in engineering through a first-year curriculum that prepares these talented and highly motivated students for pre-engineering coursework. The STARS program is providing access to engineering degrees for 64 students per year from low-income (as defined by Pell Grant eligibility) and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds (as defined by high schools in Washington State with 50% or more of the students on free or reduced priced lunch). The project's goal is to increase the number of economically and educationally disadvantaged students graduating with engineering degrees from WSU and UW by 225 annually.

The intellectual merit of this project lies in the innovative and focused program based on effective evidence-based interventions to improve the success of first-year engineering students. The STARS program is adapted from the successful GoldShirt program at the University of Colorado at Boulder. STARS is strengthening the students' academic preparation and learning skills, connecting the students to a supportive academic and social community, providing personal and effective academic advising and counseling, building a clear and compelling understanding of the engineering profession, and providing significant financial support. During the students' first year at WSU and UW, they are receiving intensive support for developing the academic and learning skills required to be successful in engineering through interventions such as a first-year academic preparation curriculum and residential living-learning communities. During the second year, STARS students are continuing to be actively supported as they transition to a standard pre-engineering curriculum. The STARS program is expected to significantly increase student retention to the upper division, allowing STARS students to complete engineering degrees.

The project's broader impacts are being realized in the comprehensive and coordinated interventions that increase the number of minority and economically disadvantaged students pursuing, succeeding, and earning degrees in engineering. This activity, along with the ongoing activities focused on supporting community college and transfer students in STEM, presents a model for statewide collaboration across universities and community colleges to increase the retention and graduation rates in STEM. Moreover, robust strategies and strong relationships with existing programs for recruiting underrepresented minorities, women, and economically disadvantaged students are being leveraged to recruit STARS candidates.


Please report errors in award information by writing to: awardsearch@nsf.gov.



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