grad photo booth

From left to right: Rodrigo Estrada, electrical engineering; Marc Soriano, civil engineering; Juan Carlos Gonzalez, mechanical engineering; Rosaura Estrada, civil engineering; Jose Jaimes mechanical engineering. All graduated in May 2013.

The University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering ranks third in the nation and first in Texas in graduating minority students, according to Diverse Issues in Higher Education’s annual list.

The Cockrell School moved to third place in Diverse Issues’ national ranking, up from fourth place the previous academic year. The Cockrell School graduated 441 minority students, or 41 percent of its total number of students, up 12 percent from last year. Georgia Institute of Technology’s engineering school ranked first on the list with 540 students (32 percent), and the University of California at Berkeley’s engineering school followed in second place with 532 students (58 percent).

In Texas, the Cockrell School ranked first among engineering schools in minority graduates. UT Austin was followed by Texas A&M University, which graduated 322 minority students, and The University of Texas at El Paso, which graduated 206 minority students.

The rankings were reported in Diverse Issues’ list of Top 100 Degree Producers, which ranks the highest number of degrees conferred to minority students by public and private institutions in the 2011 to 2012 academic year. The publication’s analysis is based on the most recent data available from the U.S. Department of Education.

“I am very proud of this year’s ranking and the success the Cockrell School has had in recruiting and retaining minority students,” said Gregory L. Fenves, dean of the Cockrell School. “We are focused on providing all of our students with the support and resources they need to graduate in four years, enter the engineering workforce and to begin contributing to society.”

The Cockrell School of Engineering’s 2011-2012 minority enrollment statistics are:

  • Ranks third nationally and first in Texas in number of minority graduates.
  • Number of minority graduates was 441.
  • National ranking by ethnicity/race: Hispanic ranking is fifth; Native American is sixth; Asian American is seventh; and African American is 30th.
  • Total undergraduate enrollment for fall 2011 was 5,548 students.

Nationally, educators are making progress in engaging students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. As a result, the Cockrell School and other schools are experiencing a growing pool of highly qualified minority applicants, said Enrique Dominguez, director of the Cockrell School’s Equality Opportunity in Engineering (EOE) program.

Dominguez attributes part of the graduation success to the school’s robust programming aimed at supporting minority students in achieving their academic and career goals. The school provides pre-college programs, leadership and professional development, research opportunities and academic community.

“We are having success in growing minority enrollment. At the same time, EOE’s programming is continuing to gain momentum,” Dominguez said. “When a student can find a community that makes 50,000 people look like 100 people, it gives them a solid foundation for success.”

The EOE program provides support to high school students through pre-college programs, such as the My Introduction To Engineering (MITE) Enrichment Program, and then fosters leadership through a variety of programs when they arrive, Dominguez said.

Rosaura Estrada, a May 2013 graduate of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, said that EOE’s programming was a key part of her success at the Cockrell School. Estrada is now working for Teach For America as a physics teacher at IDEA Donna College Preparatory in the Rio Grande Valley.

“As a first-generation graduate, the MITE Enrichment Program was my first encounter with the incredible field of engineering,” Estrada said. While at the Cockrell School, “EOE also helped me with free tutoring from upperclassmen, organizations that offered resources to succeed, Strength in Numbers EOE First-Year Interest Group, and even help with making my class schedule.”

Although the school has made progress in minority student recruitment and retention, there’s still more to be done, Dominguez said.

“The Cockrell School will continue to meet the challenge of encouraging minority students to enter science and engineering fields through EOE programming as well as various STEM initiatives,” he said.

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