Online Profiles

Montana State University - 2016

print entire profile

Engineering Information

Support Programs

College's Under-Represented Student Groups

National Groups

  • American Indian Science and Engineering Society
  • Association of Women in Computing
  • Society of Women Engineers

Local Groups

  • College of Engineering Women's Listserv
  • EMPower
  • Engineers Without Borders
  • Native American Engineering Listserv
  • Women in Engineering Student Advisory Board
  • Women in Science and Engineering

Other Student Support Programs

Montana State University sponsors a number of student support programs, including: freshman and transfer orientation, the campus Academic Advising Center, the Allen Yarnell Center for Student Success, SOTA (students-over-the-traditional-age), Disabled Student Services, Career and Internship Services, Veteran Student Services, International Programs, and programs for students returning to school after an extended period, as well as those needing special academic assistance.

Diversity Efforts:

The College of Engineering realizes the importance of a diverse student population. In efforts to increase diversity, a new position was created titled the Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Diversity and was filled in August 2001. This position targets outreach and recruitment to our underrepresented populations. Montana has seven Native American Reservations, the largest number of any state. Therefore, our main diversity recruitment target areas are the tribal schools and schools around the reservations. The Assistant Dean interacts with other resources on campus to coordinate recruitment and opportunities for prospective Native American students. Prospective women engineers, technologists and computer scientists are other areas of underrepresented students that the College of Engineering targets for recruiting.

Women in Engineering (WIE):

We have made progress to expand our outreach to young women as part of our recruitment and retention efforts for women. We have expanded activities to encourage talented women to apply and enroll - enhanced contact with prospective students - emails, phone calls, letters.

Starting in the Fall of 2005, we expanded our orientation and mentoring programs for new female students and have engaged our women in engineering student advisory board. This board consists of a woman representative from each of our programs. Each new freshman female was given an orientation book, "EMPower Our Women - A Handbook for Female Engineering Students."

For the past five years we have hosted the Women in Engineering Dinner on Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day during National Engineering Week. E-Week activities for women include Women in Engineering Dinner/lecture, Girl Scout outreach (badge day), and shadow an engineer activities for women. Since 2005, we have offered an engineerathon for middle-school aged students.

In 2005, we launched a Women In Engineering Longitudinal Study in which we survey the freshman cohort. Initial surveys help us understand college choice, motivation, and anxiety level of our female students. Future rounds of the survey served as a good indication of the environment that the COE is providing for women.

Finally, in Fall 2013, we piloted a peer leader program that has grown into an organization that teaches mentoring and leadership skills to selected Junior and Senior standing students. This organization was named the College of Engineering, Peer Academic Leaders (ePALS), and now consists of 25 students from Engineering majors. Those majors with high numbers have more than one student selected to support the lower-division student population. These students are then assigned to a group of Freshman, Sophomore, and Transfer students for the purpose of mentoring them into the college. This program has experienced success in increasing the potential for student retention.

Engineering Minority Program (EMPower):

EMPower (College of Engineering Minority Program) was established to help address issues that have led to the serious under-representation of minority and women students in the engineering fields and at the graduate level of education. Goals for EMPower included the promotion of engineering career options through pre-college outreach, individualized support for minority students, partnering and supporting complementary minority programs, faculty training to provide a culture of inclusion, and the development of effective student role models and mentors. Corporations and other individuals have provided limited endowment and current-use funds to support scholarships and provide student opportunities. Qualitative aspects of recruitment and retention are emphasized.

EMPower Student Center:

The EMPower Student Center was created in late 2003 with the acquisition of 1500 square feet of space. Having a physical location for diversity support was a key component in the continued success of EMPower initiatives. EMPower achievements include: a new student center for student organization chapter meetings such as Society for Women Engineers (SWE), and American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES); study breaks and mentoring opportunities offered to students; a new computer center (sponsored by Boeing) including 6 desktop and 20 laptop computers available for student use; hosting Native American engineering and industry professionals; a SMART Board and LCD projector for student use in tutoring, group design projects and other student presentations; conference room facilities established as the focal point for community building among minority students. This space within the College of Engineering has allowed EMPower to establish a real presence within the college.

Hewlett Foundation 'Designing Our Community' Program:

In December 2001 the Montana State University College of Engineering was acknowledged as an Engineering School of the West and was awarded a three-year grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to support the 'Designing Our Community' Program (DOC). The DOC Program seeks to enhance outreach, recruitment and retention to increase the numbers of Native Americans who graduate from MSU with engineering or computer science degrees. The College of Engineering has targeted the enhancement of Native American education as a top priority over the next five years. Our vision is to become firmly established as the premier institution of choice for Native American students in engineering, engineering technology, and computer science in the northern Rockies and the northern Great Plains regions; to be a successful partner with Native American communities in developing the future workforce.

In 2003, nine public colleges and universities in nine western states received William and Flora Hewlett Foundation grants to fund programs to improve the quality of undergraduate education in engineering and to increase the number of engineering graduates. At that time Montana State University's College of Engineering was selected as a Hewlett Foundation Engineering School of the West.

These Engineering Schools of the West Initiative grants supported programs to increase retention and recruitment efforts, and to improve student learning through better undergraduate teaching.

The institutions, selected for a commitment to rigorous assessment and ability to sustain long-term outcomes, collaborate to tackle such issues as new ways to assess student learning or how to provide students with a global orientation to engineering problems. Schools were chosen in part because their programs had the potential of providing a significant 'multiplier effect' leading to a change in the institution that would also be instructive to other colleges and universities.

The Hewlett Designing Our Community Program (DOC) at Montana State University seeks to establish the College of Engineering as the premier choice for Native American students.

Its first goal is to increase the motivation and pre-entry academic preparation of Native American students through recruitment activities on all seven Native American reservations in the state, visits to schools on the reservations, sponsorship of up to ten students to work on campus in engineering research and to enhance academic preparation in math in the Minority Apprenticeship Program (MAP) during the summer.

Goal number two is to help shape the engineering/engineering technology and computer science workforce by increasing the number of Native American students graduating from the College of Engineering. As a start on this effort, several focus groups took place with current students in engineering to garner feedback, assess needs and begin planning of the retention programs. Each semester there is a seminar course for Native Americans in Engineering. It serves as an academic enhancement with a learning community environment.

The final goal of the DOC program is to improve access to quality engineering and technology to rural and underserved populations by returning highly educated professionals to these communities. A number of programs are underway in this regard.

For more information please see: