Metropolitan Mentors Network (MMNet): Growing an Urban STEM Talent Pool across New York City
The central rationale of this project is to leverage the close proximity of multiple colleges and industry partners in the urban setting to cultivate a network of mentors and opportunities centered on City Tech, with the goal of increasing by 66 per year the number of students receiving associate and bachelor's degrees within science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The college's location, both geographically and within the City University of New York, enables CUNY graduate students who are only a subway ride away to become role models for STEM undergraduates at City Tech. In the same way, City Tech students can reach the vast resources of the University and the City. Through coordination with existing efforts, MetroNet is establishing well marked pathways from high school through the associate and bachelor's degrees to employment or graduate education, and is providing a safety net of academic, social, and economic supports. Project activities, designed to support the development of a professional identity, promote membership in a professional community, and counter obstacles to success, extend throughout the students' enrollment in the college, from a pre-freshman summer experience to the awarding of the degree: 1. Design of two credit-bearing courses, one in the sciences and math, the other in engineering technologies, offered in a pre-freshman summer experience, to provide academic preparation through a combination of theory and hands-on experience. Featuring development of laboratory techniques, communication, teamwork, and creative thinking skills, these courses offer career information, including trips to local industries and government labs. One goal is to create a better fit between the students and their declared majors, minimizing noncontributory credits from changing majors and high dropout rates due to disenchantment. 2. Academic year block programming of the summer cohort in required general education courses such as English Composition linked to a seminar series and mentoring of undergraduates by teaching assistants in STEM. These teaching assistants in turn receive mentoring by experienced faculty at City Tech on classroom management, development of learning outcomes, and learning assessment. 3. Promotion of student involvement on campus and academic focus through research and career oriented activities. An annual poster session featuring student research increases the visibility of STEM activities on campus. Summer internships at science museums, along with research and employment opportunities are available to the students. 4. Capstone Senior Design courses in Telecommunications and Computer Engineering Technologies are being developed for students in engineering technology. 5. A project website is used to disseminate developed curriculum assessment results and student work. The project explores development and implementation of a new model to improve graduation rates by retooling successful retention and recruitment strategies to address the specific needs of students at an urban, commuter public college. The broader impact of MetroNet includes its focus on the transfer of learning from the sciences, mathematics and liberal arts courses to technology, computer systems and engineering applications where fundamental learned principles are applied to real-world problems. Because of the demographics of the college, the project promotes the participation of underrepresented minorities in STEM majors.