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Number of Women and Minority Applicants to College of Engineering Increases


UC's College of Engineering builds upon a strong foundation of cooperative education, customer service and personal attention.

Date: 6/18/2008 12:00:00 AM
By: Wendy Beckman and Kelly Collier, GearUp student
Phone: (513) 556-1826
Other Contact: Kathleen Johnson
Other Contact Phone: (513) 556-0025
Photos By: Katie Hageman

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Lakeisha Clay participated in UC's Emerging Ethnic Engineers program.
Lakeisha Clay participated in UC's Emerging Ethnic Engineers program.

The University of Cincinnati’s College of Engineering is building upon a strong foundation and seeing efforts pay off in increasing numbers of applications from women, ethnic minority students and students from out of state.

“The word is getting out that UC is a good place to go to school,” says Kathy Johnson, director of Undergraduate Student Enrollment in the College of Engineering at the University of Cincinnati. Becoming part of the Big East is part of that, notes Charlie Schwartz, program coordinator and admissions officer for the College of Engineering.

"And having a good football team is important, too,” he adds. UC has been holding recruiting events in conjunction with athletic events, especially in the Big East states and especially those within a six-hour car ride.

Ken Simonson, director of the Emerging Ethnic Engineers program
Ken Simonson, director of the Emerging Ethnic Engineers program

“We know we’re going to face certain competition,” says Schwartz. “For example, when we’re recruiting in Indiana, we know that we’re looking at kids who are also considering Ball State, Purdue and Notre Dame.”

A new challenge, however, is the difference between the numbers of students who confirm and those who actually enroll.

“It used to be that we would get a certain number of applicants and from that a certain percentage would actually enroll,” says Johnson. “When the number of applications rose, I was almost worried about exceeding our capacity.”

“This year, not just in the College of Engineering but across the board, we’re seeing an increasing amount of applications but a drop in the percentage of enrollment,” says Schwartz.

Johnson says that when students are told they have been accepted, they pay a $50 deposit to hold their spot at UC. Typically, once students confirm in this way, 2–3 percent do not actually enroll. However, the trend this year is showing that 2–10 percent might not enroll even after confirming.

“Some are paying the deposit on two or three schools,” says Johnson. She's hoping they'll decide to enroll at UC.

Badin High School won first place in the JV Division 5 of the 2008 JETS TEAMS competition at UC.
Badin High School won first place in the JV Division 5 of the 2008 JETS TEAMS competition at UC.

Every Friday, the college holds its “Friday Tours,” which start off with an overview of the College of Engineering by Senior Associate Dean Emeritus Roy Eckart. In these tours, prospective students — usually high-school sophomores and juniors — meet student “Engineering Ambassadors,” take a short walking tour of the engineering buildings and then meet with a faculty member in an engineering discipline of the student’s choice. Students can sign up for as many Friday Tours as they desire.

Johnson says that in some cases, entering students’ scores do not meet the criteria required for the College of Engineering. In those cases, they may start out in the Center for Exploratory Studies in the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences and then transfer into the College of Engineering.

UC's Aerospace Engineering Department was the first in the country to be chaired by a woman, Professor Awatef Hamed (left), seen here with UC President Nancy Zimpher. (Photo by Andrew Higley)
UC's Aerospace Engineering Department was the first in the country to be chaired by a woman, Professor Awatef Hamed (left), seen here with UC President Nancy Zimpher. (Photo by Andrew Higley)

Engineering offers undergraduate degrees in several fields: aerospace, biomedical, chemical, civil, computer, electrical, materials and mechanical engineering and computer science. Students may have an idea of which field they're interested in or might want to wait before declaring a specific major. The “Engineering Fundamentals” class exposes first-year students to all the engineering disciplines and a variety of careers.

“UC is unique in that way,” says Schwartz. “You can choose your major, but you don’t have to.”

Jeff Johnson is an associate professor of biomedical engineering at UC.
Jeff Johnson is an associate professor of biomedical engineering at UC.

Another feature of engineering at UC is its cooperative education program, ranked in the nation’s top ten by U.S. News & World Report, where students alternate quarters in the classroom with quarters of paid employment. In fact, UC is the home of co-op, where the concept of cooperative education was “invented” by College of Engineering Dean Herman Schneider in 1906.

“It’s our best ‘scholarship’ ever,” says Johnson. “They graduate with a year and a half of experience and earn $40,000 to $50,000. Some even graduate with no debt and are purchasing new cars and houses!”

Participating in UC's bridge-building and JETS TEAMS competitions is one way to experience UC engineering before graduating from high school.
Participating in UC's bridge-building and JETS TEAMS competitions is one way to experience UC engineering before graduating from high school.

“The good thing about a university of this size is that there is a program for almost everyone here,” Johnson adds. “With the combination of coop, accessible professors and a variety of engineering disciplines, UC is a great place to become an engineer.”