Engineering PLUS (Partnerships Launching Underrepresented Students) Alliance

What is Engineering PLUS?  

Engineering PLUS is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a part of the NSF INCLUDES (Inclusion Across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science) Program. NSF INCLUDES is a national initiative that enhances U.S. leadership with the major focus on diversity, inclusion and broadening participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Engineering PLUS aims to build a system and a network to increase engineering degrees among women and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and Other People of Color) nationally.

Vision and Mission: Because of the wealth of best practices on broadening participation in engineering that have emerged from research over the past several decades, we put forth this hypothesis: An infrastructure is missing to support sustainability and scale-up of successful interventions and not per-se introduction of new interventions. Engineering PLUS is designed to build this critical infrastructure through well-crafted partnerships. For example, the NSF Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program and the network of BIPOC and women engineering society chapters have the potential of making a lasting impact at scale. Moreover, Northeastern University (NU) has over 30 years of experience implementing programs focused on broadening participation in engineering. 

Our vision for the Engineering PLUS Alliance is to achieve transformative, systemic and sustainable change that will increase the growth rate in the number of BIPOC and women obtaining undergraduate and graduate engineering degrees. By driving the growth of engineering undergraduate degrees by 10% and graduate degrees by 5% across these underrepresented populations, we aim to increase the annual number of degrees awarded these populations to 100,000/30,000 (BS/MS-PhD) and establish a future growth rate that can substantially close the aforementioned gaps. Our mission is to implement the strategy posed by our hypothesis, with emphasis on fostering systems changes at key transition points of educational pathways. 

The Engineering PLUS Alliance is built around six key strategies:

  • Key Partnership Strategy 1 (KPS 1) – Implement a collaborative infrastructure Backbone using the 3-level model developed by the NSF Engineering Research Centers (ERC) program;
  • Key Partnership Strategy 2 (KPS 2) – Link with NSBE, SWE, AISES and diversity and women engineering societies to engage students;
  • Key Partnership Strategy 3 (KPS 3) – Establish a network of 5 Regional Hubs incorporating existing LSAMP networks and non-LSAMP networks; 
  • Key Partnership Strategy 4 (KPS 4) – Address regional and national capacity by training a national network of stEm (E emphasizes Engineering) PEERs (Practitioners Enhancing Engineering Regionally) utilizing a stEm Scale-up Academy to accelerate implementation of evidence-based practices and to foster institutional buy-in;
  • Key Partnership Strategy 5 (KPS 5) – Implement a sustainability strategy involving industry and key stakeholders; and
  • Key Partnership Strategy 6 (KPS 6) – Create a Continuous Improvement Research, Data and Evaluation (CIDER) effort.

NSF INCLUDES Alliance Engineering PLUS (Partnerships Launching Underrepresented Students). This work is supported by the National Science Foundation under award HRD-2119930. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.