CASCaded Mentoring And Design Experiences (CASCADE)

  • Ozcelik, Selahattin S. (PI)
  • Abdelrahman, Mohamed M.A. (CoPI)
  • Jones, Kim K.D. (CoPI)
  • Aguiniga, Francisco F. (CoPI)
  • Ramirez, David D. (CoPI)
  • Barakat, Nael N.A. (CoPI)
  • Asadi, Somayeh (CoPI)
  • Choi, Jong-won J.-W. (CoPI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Texas A&M University-Kingsville, a Hispanic Serving Institution of approximately 5,300 students, is increasing the quantity, quality, and diversity of students successfully earning engineering baccalaureate degrees by augmenting progress from a prior STEP award. The project is being initiated in civil and mechanical engineering departments and is expanding into the chemical and environmental engineering departments. Specific objectives of this 5-year project are: (i) infusing concepts of the design process across all four levels of the engineering undergraduate curriculum; (ii) increasing first-year, second-year, and third-year retention of engineering undergraduate students to 78%, 68%, and 62% respectively; and (iii) increasing the six-year engineering undergraduate graduation rate from 44% to 54%.

The first new endeavor is engaging students in design experiences throughout their undergraduate academic careers. Freshman are experiencing the design process in a fundamental and structured way that is then aligned vertically to experiences in their sophomore and junior years. The university's annual engineering design competition is expanding to include the work of lower division students. To enhance student retention and persistence to graduation, the senior capstone design experiences are linked to the university's engineering innovation laboratory for access to authentic, real-world, industry projects.

The second new endeavor is an innovative configuration of cascaded peer-mentoring, wherein undergraduate seniors are mentoring juniors, juniors are mentoring sophomores, and sophomores are mentoring freshmen. These peer mentors, after being selected via a formal application process and participating in a training workshop, are engaging with students around the design projects.

The project, overseen by internal and external advisory boards, is advancing knowledge of effective practices on retention of Hispanic engineering students. Faculty are more deliberately connecting undergraduate education and practice to relevant design experiences linked to industry problems or concerns, with particular attention to those of likely impact on the largely Hispanic public of the region and state of Texas. The project is conducting a thorough assessment and is nationally disseminating their practices and findings.

Effective start/end date9/15/128/31/20


  • National Science Foundation: $500,000.00


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