AU AT&T Minority Engineering Program Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Published: Apr 13, 2007 1:14:10 PM
Media Contact: Cheryl Cobb, cobbche@auburn.edu, 334.844.2220

On Saturday, April 14, the AT&T Minority Engineering Program (MEP) will celebrate its 10th Anniversary with a gala evening of dining and dancing at the Auburn-Opelika Marriott at Grand National. David W. Scobey Jr., president and CEO of AT&T Southeast, will be the keynote speaker.

AT&TMEP began in 1997 with funding from Texas Instruments and its retired executive vice president, Auburn electrical engineering alumnus William F. (Hank) Hayes '65. In 2001, AT&T, then BellSouth, provided the financial assistance that made it possible for AT&TMEP to experience steady growth in the areas of student recruitment and program expansions.

"This weekend's event will provide a chance for students, alums and sponsors to celebrate our incredible progress to date," explains program director, Shirley Scott-Harris.

In support of its mission to recruit and retain minority engineering students, AT&TMEP works in partnership with business, industry and engineering professionals to ensure that our students are successful in their undergraduate studies and are effectively prepared to enter graduate school and/or the work force.

Since the program's inception, minority enrollment in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering has increased steadily; as has retention of minority students. One reason for this is that the program addressed the critical performance factors that determine success for minority students - the difficulty adjusting to the culture of the institution; the feeling of being overwhelmed by the complexities and choices of outlining an academic course of study; the lack of experience in time-task management; and the need for a social support network.

"The AT&T Minority Engineering Program has played a major role in the academic success of the college's underrepresented students," says Larry Benefield, dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. "The graduation numbers continue to provide positive proof that structured learning environments outside the classroom that incorporate proactive mentoring and tutoring can make a significant difference in student retention."

Scott-Harris notes that this year's ten-year mark has been a particularly exciting and productive one for the program. Ninety-five freshmen enrolled in AT&TMEP this fall - the highest number of new students since the program's inception. Highlights of the past year include the formation of an AT&TMEP Advisory Council that consists of 12 corporate representatives, two AT&TMEP students, two College of Engineering staff members and a minority engineering professor. The council will provide input into ways to improve program operations, be a forum to address new initiatives and proposals, and engage alumni in student recruitment and fundraising.

"Students in the program spend a lot of time together," explains Scott-Harris. "Our alums are looking forward to this chance to see old friends and mentors in a fun and relaxing setting. In addition, our current students will get exposure to graduates who have made the transition into the workforce successfully."