Three Drexel Engineering professors have been awarded funding from the
National Science Foundation (NSF) for a project to increase STEM degree
completion among low-income, high-achieving students.
Ahmad Najafi, PhD, PC Chou Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics;
Jennifer Atchison, PhD, assistant teaching professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics; and
Gail Rosen, PhD, professor of electrical and computer engineering are collaborators on the
project, titled “Awards to Increase Mechanical and Electrical Engineering
Diversity (AIME). The funding will provide financial support for four years
of undergraduate education for 23 MEM and ECE students.
To address the barriers to inclusivity that have historically limited
diversity in engineering programs, the project also outlines a network of
resources designed to foster intellectual growth and social belonging in
students from underrepresented backgrounds.
“The AIME program will partner with local STEM education stakeholders to
recruit and retain talented, under-resourced students (Black, Indigenous,
and people of color and female populations) in the Philadelphia area to
pursue Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Bachelor’s degrees at Drexel
University,” the projects description states. “By offering both financial
(through scholarships) and academic (through mentorship, tutoring and
undergraduate research opportunities) resources, AIME aims to assist
students in scaffolding unique paths to success that will lead to impactful
careers in engineering.”
In implementing both financial support and services aimed at enhancing the
experience of women and underrepresented minorities in engineering, the
project is poised to evaluate the effectiveness of such a framework in
initiating transformation toward a more inclusive STEM ecosystem.
The PIs aim to introduce a program called the Thrive Mosaic Scholar
Development Framework “to increase the likelihood of equitable educational
experiences for our AIME Scholars.” They describe this framework as “a
conceptual toolkit for equitable STEM identity and leadership development
that centers the student’s development of social capital, community and
cultural wealth, and academic capital within an ecosystem of partners
(associates, advocates, mentors, coaches, connectors, targeting trainers)
who will provide specific support throughout the undergraduate experience
pioneered by Dr. Robbin Chapman of the Harvard Kennedy School.”
As a joint MEM-ECE effort, this project also reflects the importance of
collaboration in advancing STEM fields towards greater inclusivity.
“ECE/MEM enjoy synergy in programs, curriculum and partnership in senior
Jonathan Spanier, PhD, professor and head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and
Mechanics. “This opportunity exemplifies the strong partnerships essential
to achieving the College of Engineering mission.”