Congratulations to Trina Fletcher and Alexandra Strong, assistant professors from the School of Universal Computing, Construction, and Engineering Education (SUCCEED) for being awarded a $361K grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). This grant will explore the success and best practices of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as they are the top producers of Black students who go on to complete graduate-level degrees in science and engineering.

Between 2002 and 2011, NSF found that HBCUs play a critical role in producing African-American and Black students in STEM. These institutions comprised all 10 of the top baccalaureate-origin institutions for Black students who went on to obtain a doctoral degree in science and engineering.

Through this grant, the researchers from FIU’s College of Engineering & Computing will conduct a three-phased study to better understand HBCUs, their culture and how other institutions can be more strategic in partnering with HBCUs with the end goal of increasing underrepresented minority students’ interest in pursuing graduate STEM degrees and retaining and graduating these students.

Phase I of the study will collect survey data from current engineering and computing students and alumni associated with HBCU programs. Phase II will consist of interview-based case studies from three particular HBCUs. Phase III will involve collecting and sharing the results of the survey and case studies to present at the 2021 National Society of Black Engineers Convention and the 2021 Annual American Society for Engineering Education Conference & Exposition.

The findings of this research grant will add value to the research community’s understanding of the experiences of Black students at HBCUs and will equip stakeholders from HBCUs and other institutions to explore and adopt new approaches to increase underrepresented minority students’ interest towards graduate programs.