FARGO Eight American Indian pre-engineering students took part in a new program at North Dakota State University in Fargo called the "Pre-Engineering Education Collaborative," according to a North Dakota State University press release.
The collaborative was funded by a $4.8 million National Science Foundation Grant. Under the collaborative, students began their studies at one of the four North Dakota tribal colleges Turtle Mountain Community College in Belcourt; Fort Berthold Community College in Berthold; Cankdeska Cikana Community College in Fort Totten; and Sitting Bull College in Fort Yates and then transfer to NDSU to complete their studies. The goal is to build greater diversity among engineering graduates.
To ease the transition to the four-year university, students brush up on their skills during the supplemental 12-day summer session, which was held July 25 to Aug. 5. During the session, they sharpened their skills in trigonometry and calculus and took a computer-aided design class where they used surveying data from that morning to generate a plot or map of the area surveyed.
During the evening, they attended a professional development conference, focusing on topics such as life on campus for American Indians in the region. They discussed getting used to college, how to transfer to another university, how to set up their plan-of-study, how to balance work and school, financial aid, money management, time management and life as an engineer.
Ryan Brown, who graduated from Devils Lake High School in May and is enrolled in pre-engineering at Cankdeska Cikana Community College this fall, was the youngest student in the session at age 18. His goal is to earn a degree in civil or construction engineering and return home to Devils Lake to help deal with flooded infrastructure issues.
He said the summer program has been challenging, but worth it. "It's great we get to come here," he said. "Some people think it's tough no one is used to Calculus 1 and 2. It's a little hard, but if you pay attention, you can get through it. The teacher is great. I highly recommend coming here. If you plan on going into engineering, this is a good head start for the young people."
Another student, Maloni Fox, agrees. "It's been really hard work, but it's going good."
For Fox, the most beneficial aspect has been working with new people and gaining a professional perspective on engineering. She encourages other students to take part.
"It's a really cool learning experience," Fox said. "What it does is introduces us to a bigger campus and shows us what we're going to be doing."
For Robert Pieri, NDSU tribal college partnership coordinator, the program is about sharing opportunities, which relates back to NDSU's land-grant mission.
"The reason the partnership makes sense is our missions are compatible we're supporting each other to develop that expertise," Pieri said. "There's a need at the tribal college. We can answer that need. So let's work together to do that."
NDSU's collaboration is one of only four programs in the nation. Other National Science Foundation funded collaborations are in South Dakota, Wisconsin and Hawaii.