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An Integrated Program for Recruitment, Retention, and Graduation of Academically Talented Low Income Engineering Students


Funded by:

The National Science Foundation’s Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) Program

Motivation for the Project Heading link

The UIC College of Engineering designed the new program in response to growing evidence suggesting that students from low-income backgrounds have lower graduation rates and are less likely to find jobs in their respective fields than their peers from higher-income families.

There’s nothing more important to the College of Engineering than student success, and engineering and computer science education is an economic escalator for students coming from challenging economic backgrounds, our programs, including this new one sponsored by the National Science Foundation, provide a clear path to the upper middle-class and beyond for our students.

Peter Nelson, PhD  |  Professor of computer science and dean

Scholars and their Cohorts Heading link

The $975,000 National Science Foundation grant will support a total of 30 incoming freshmen engineering students who start in either fall 2018 or fall 2019 (18 scholars admitted for fall 2018 and 12 scholars admitted for fall 2019) for average of 4 years. Students from low-income households will be encouraged to apply for the scholarship program based on their high school grades and ACT or SAT scores.

In addition to providing scholarships toward tuition estimated to average $5,000 per student, scholars selected for the program will participate in activities in the summer before their first fall semester at UIC. In the summer bridge program, scholars will be matched with a student and a faculty mentor who will provide academic guidance, as well as an industry mentor who will provide career guidance. Scholars will also participate in paid summer internships either at a UIC engineering lab, or in one of more than 100 Chicago area companies.

Lots of research shows that college success is dependent, in large part, on family income. Students who are the first in their families to go to college don’t have parents that can talk to them about what it’s like going to college to prepare them for the experience, and those parents are also often at a loss when it comes to providing guidance on finding a job in their child’s chosen field.

Houshang Darabi, PhD  |  MIE Associate Professor