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A Learning and Serving Community Helps Female Students Succeed in Engineering
Female engineering enrollment and retention rate has been a concern in the United States. Our school, a small private college, struggled in this area too when it first launched its Engineering program in early 90s. Isolation was the major problem and had caused many female engineering students switched majors. Up to year 2005, there were less than ten female students in the whole engineering department every year. The female engineering student ratio is about 5%. To improve the situation, a unique learning and serving community is created in year 2005. Unique mentoring programs and variety of service projects and activities are designed and carried out in order to form a supportive learning community for the female engineering students. After over ten years’ efforts, as of today, the number of female engineering students has increased from under 10 to over 56. The female engineering student ratio reached 12%. Female engineering students are now thriving in our learning and serving community through mentoring, building friendship with other female engineering students, and serving the local communities. This paper will describe the challenges our Engineering department used to face in order to improving the female engineering student’s enrollment and retention rate. It will then give details on how our learning and serving community has been gradually formed over the past 10 years, what kind of activities and service projects have been implemented, and how the mentoring programs are conducted. This paper will also explain why this unique learning and serving community in a small private college can help the female engineering students succeed.