The NSF-funded Redshirt in Engineering Consortium was formed in 2016 with the goal of enhancing the ability of academically talented but underprepared students coming from low-income backgrounds to successfully graduate with engineering degrees. The Consortium takes its name from the practice of redshirting in college athletics, with the idea of providing an extra year and support to help promising engineering students complete a bachelor’s degree. The Consortium builds on the success of three existing “academic redshirt” programs and expands the model to three new schools. The Existing Redshirt Institutions (ERIs) help mentor and train the new Student Success Partners (SSP), and SSPs contribute their unique expertise to help ERIs improve existing redshirt programs. The redshirt model is comprised of seven main programmatic components aimed at improving the engagement, retention, and graduation of students underrepresented in engineering. These components include: “intrusive” academic advising and support services, an intensive first-year academic curriculum, community-building (including pre-matriculation summer programs), career awareness and vision, faculty mentorship, NSF S-STEM scholarships, and second-year support. Successful implementation of these activities is intended to produce two main long-term outcomes: a six-year graduation rate of 60%-75% for redshirt students, and increased rates of enrollment and graduation of Pell-eligible, URM, and women students in engineering at participating universities. In the first year of the grant (AY 16-17), SSPs developed their own redshirt programs, hired and trained staff, and got their programs off the ground. ERIs implemented faculty mentorship programs and expanded support to redshirt students into their sophomore year. In the second year (AY 17-18), redshirt programs were expanded at the ERIs while SSPs welcomed their first cohorts of redshirt students. This Work in Progress paper describes the redshirt programs at each of the six Consortium institutions, identifying distinctions between them in addition to highlighting common elements. First-year assessment results are presented for the ERIs based on student surveys, performance, and retention outcomes. Ongoing research into faculty experiences is investigating how participation as mentors for redshirt students changes faculty mindsets and instructional practices. Ongoing research into student experiences is investigating how the varied curricula, advising, and cohort models used across the six institutions influence student retention and sense of identity as engineering students.
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