Lehigh University Office of the First Year Experience offers preLUsion, a pre-Orientation experience in August for students starting that fall. preLUsion provides first-year students with an opportunity to explore a topic of their choice and engage with students and staff/faculty members who share a similar interest. Much of preLUsion is led by student leaders knowledgeable in that field and provides an exciting way to jumpstart the college experience by moving-in early and fostering connections while getting familiar with campus. Scholarships are available if the cost of a preLUsion is difficult for a student to cover. Since summer 2015, Lehigh’s PC Rossin CEAS has offered a Women in Engineering (WIE) preLUsion program which will be described in this presentation as an exploration of a promising practice. The three day long WIE program can accommodate 20-30 students. Participating students are paired with seven or eight student peer mentors for activities including: ice breakers, a campus-wide scavenger hunt, exposure to a variety of engineering tracks via mini-workshops, directed conversations on gender and inclusion, a ropes course challenge, and a seminar on how to survive and thrive during their engineering education.
Attendees to this presentation will learn about the logistics of organizing this program from the ground up, the impact of this WIE program over five cohorts of women students by reviewing longitudinal academic outcomes data compared to the overall cohort of engineering students, and consider the qualitative feedback describing the value-added to the women participants. The authors invite attendees to consider ways programs like this can be adapted, enhanced and sustained as part of an overarching college-level strategic plan to increase diversity and retention amongst undergraduate engineering students while expanding its attention to experiential learning.
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