by Deborah Silliman Wolfe/College of Engineering
The University of Texas at San Antonio College of Engineering and the Alamo Colleges have been collaborating since 2012 on the Transfer Academy for Tomorrow’s Engineers (TATE) program. TATE brings local, community college engineering students who want to transfer to UTSA to the UTSA Main Campus for an intense four week course that focuses on research and technical writing skills and allows the students to conduct climate related engineering research.
“We wanted to see more students transfer to engineering from the community colleges, and help them succeed once they got on the UTSA campus,” said Darrell C. Balderrama, director of Retention Programs in the Office of P-20 Initiatives at The University of Texas at San Antonio. “We finished our third summer cohort in 2014, and the first group of TATE students will graduate May 2015. We track the students and we follow their progress throughout their time at UTSA until they graduate.”
John Joseph, lecturer in the Department of Civil Engineering, and Lindsay Radcliffe, lecturer with the University College Writing Program, have been involved with the program since it’s inception in 2013. Joseph is the primary lecturer for the course, teaching the math and physics concepts of climate science and Radcliffe serves as the writing instructor for the course, leading short writing lessons and working one-on-one with student research teams, reading and responding to their report drafts and daily journal entries.
“My favorite aspect of the program is its multidisciplinary approach: students learn the math and physics behind climate change, research a particular aspect of the science, and communicate their findings to two audiences,” said Radcliffe. “First, they write a formal technical report for an academic audience, then they translate that report into a short webcast aimed at a popular audience. Above all, the program teaches that successful STEM scholars must also be successful communicators.”
Radcliffe says the program is important to UTSA because it helps ensure that the best engineering students from the Alamo Colleges are choosing to complete their studies in UTSA’s College of Engineering as well as helps create scientifically literate UTSA engineering graduates who are prepared to design and build systems to respond to the challenges of climate change.
“My favorite thing about the course is our topic, Communicating Climate Change,” said Joseph. “It gives students the opportunity to understand climate change from a scientific perspective, which is valuable in itself. But students can also compare this acquired understanding with public perception, and thus grow in their awareness of how public perception, and hence their own perception in general, may be influenced.”
Besides the educational aspect of the program, TATE fosters development of peer relationships among the entering engineering students.
“The older students serve as mentors to the younger students in the program,” said Balderrama. “During one of our monthly meetings, the students from the first cohort started talking to the students from the second cohort, and they really started working together. The incoming students felt much more comfortable being able to talk to other students who has gone through what they had gone through.”
According to the program website, TATE was designed to increase the academic success of first-generation students who are interested in the field of engineering. Both institutions are committed to preparing students by creating paths of study that provide a seamless transition from Alamo Colleges to the College of Engineering at UTSA.
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