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NMSU engineering transfer students learn innovation and entrepreneurship

Forty-six engineering transfer students participated in a one-week immersion workshop on innovation and entrepreneurship as part of a National Science Foundation program to broaden participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics the week before formal classes began at New Mexico State and Howard Universities.


A group of men and women stand on steps outside a building.
New Mexico State University engineering transfer students who participated in the Broadening Participation program received an introduction to engineering methods and the College of Engineering. (NMSU photo by Linda Fresques)

Developed in collaboration between the two institutions, the program introduced transfer students to the engineering design process using the Lean LaunchPad method for technology-based innovation and entrepreneurship.

?The Lean Launchpad program is an excellent platform to introduce the students to one another and faculty and staff. Research has shown that strong peer bonds and relationships with faculty can help to improve student persistence. In addition, the entrepreneurship projects provided a great context for introducing key engineering skills. This was only enhanced by the student interaction between campuses,? said Grant M. Warner, Howard University - Hampton University I-Corps site principal investigator.

The virtual collaboration between both institutions brought together teams of students to identify a technology-based solution to a presented problem. Throughout the week, the students conducted customer discovery, developed prototypes, and presented their findings to engineering faculty reviewers from both institutions as well as a representative from NMSU?s Arrowhead Center. Participating students included two-year transfer students from community colleges, as well as incoming transfers from other four-year institutions.

?The program was developed to better engage our transfer engineering students and help them feel like they?re part of the respective College of Engineering communities,? said Luke Nogales, assistant professor in the NMSU Engineering Technology Department and a Broadening Participation instructor. ?The program is proving effective in helping transfer students jump-start their academic careers.?

Engineering faculty Phillip DeLeon and Rolfe Sassenfeld at NMSU, along with Warner and Legand Burge at Howard University joined Nogales as instructors for the program workshop.

?The immediate impact is that students are really excited to be part of the NMSU and Howard engineering communities,? said Nogales. ?They?re starting to make some friends and starting to get comfortable with the faculty and the campus. The longer term impact, is to better engage these students with their academics both inside and outside of class, hopefully leading to higher graduation rates and timely graduation.?