NMSU, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education awarded grant to aid engineering students

With funding from a National Science Foundation grant, New Mexico State University and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education will create a transfer model to help electrical engineering students. The one-year, $300,000 award from the NSF’s Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Education and Human Resources Program will support an effort to improve transfer, retention and graduation rates.

The project will be based on WICHE’s Interstate Passport program, which enables block transfer of lower-division general education requirements based on faculty-developed learning outcomes among participating accredited two-year and four-year colleges and universities nationwide.

“We welcome this move to provide a pathway for community college students to transfer to the NMSU College of Engineering,” said College of Engineering Dean Lakshmi N. Reddi. “We have focused our efforts on providing an inclusive student-centric culture in the College of Engineering to better serve students from all backgrounds and help them succeed not only as students but as professionals and leaders in engineering.”

The collaboration between the NMSU system and WICHE will strive to not only increase graduation rates for science, technology, engineering and math majors but also workforce development.

“This is a timely project,” said Patricia Sullivan, director of NMSU’s Office of Strategic Initiatives and New Mexico WICHE commissioner. “Specifically, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused higher education to rethink strategies for engaging and retaining students in STEM disciplines to meet a growing workforce need. This project offers students the flexibility to begin their higher education at either a community college or four-year institution and the confidence that courses will transfer in a meaningful manner towards timely degree completion.”

According to Laura Boucheron, co-principal investigator and NMSU Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering associate professor, NMSU’s contribution to the project builds on curricular analytics work being conduct in both the college and department.

“Relating learning outcomes in a curriculum at a more granular level allows us to more clearly formulate meaningful prerequisite structure in our curriculum and establish sets of critical competencies associated with courses that may commonly be transferred between institutions,” Boucheron said. “We expect that this will enhance student success by reducing time to degree, mitigating the effects of bottleneck courses, and increasing student awareness of the interconnected nature of engineering topics.”

NMSU joined the Interstate Passport Network in August 2020. Launched in July 2016, the Interstate Passport Network membership includes nonprofit public and private colleges and universities. Since its inception, membership has grown to 59 institutions in 17 states. To learn more, visit http://interstatepassport.wiche.edu/.