The Department of Engineering at the University of Denver established, "The Making of an Engineer," as an engineering experience course for high-school students fourteen years ago. The summer program works to engage the interest of capable "second tier" students in engineering fields, and the follow up program supports them in their academic and career development. The program provides a good balance of research activities, group work and individual exploration with faculty and student role models, all based on a central element: a three-week college-level course in problem solving.
The quality and outcomes of a well-articulated quantitative and qualitative evaluation program are impressive. The program surveys indicate that eighty-two percent of the student participants chose to attend college, with sixty-one percent majoring in engineering. The program in 2000 included 68 participants, of which forty-four (sixty-five percent) were members of groups underrepresented in science and engineering: three were African-American, ten were American Indians, and thirty-one were Hispanic/Latino. The strategy of recruiting capable students from diverse regions across the United States and its protectorates, including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and American Samoa, makes it a truly exceptional approach reflecting awareness of the need to broaden opportunities in SMET fields beyond identifying those traditionally participating. The program components reflect incorporation of the recommendations from research literature on best practices in human resource development. The program has become well integrated into the heart of the institution, now needing no additional staff beyond those who are tutors and mentors.