Georgia Tech Ranked as Top Producer of African-American Engineering Graduates

Georgia Tech was the No. 1 producer of African-American engineers at the master's degree level during the 2002-2003 academic year, according to Black Issues in Higher Education magazine's annual college rankings report.

Georgia Tech was also the top overall producer of African-American engineers at the bachelor's and master's levels, with at total of 172 degrees awarded.

Considered by Georgia Tech to be an important tool to measure the success of campus diversity endeavors, the Black Issues rankings underscore Tech's efforts to create a diverse campus through strong recruitment and retention practices, rather than relying on quotas to boost minority enrollment.

"We are pleased that the Institute has maintained a high level of quality while still achieving consistent success with minority recruitment. But more importantly, we are very proud of the achievement of our minority graduates," said Provost Jean Lou Chameau.

Tech awarded 31 master's degrees in engineering to African-Americans, which accounted for four percent of the total number of master's degrees in engineering awarded at Tech during the 2002-2003 academic year.

But despite an overall increase in bachelor's degrees awarded to African-American students, Georgia Tech ranked No. 2 at the bachelor's degree level, just behind North Carolina A&T State University. Tech awarded 141 degrees during the 2002-2003 school year, up 13 percent from the previous school year and representing 11 percent of engineering degrees awarded. Ironically, Tech was No. 1 for the 2001-2002 school year, when it awarded 125 bachelor's degrees to African-American students.

Other institutions in the top five of bachelor degree producers include No. 1 North Carolina A&T State University with 143; No. 3 North Carolina State University at Raleigh with 85; No. 4 Tennessee State University with 79; and No. 5 Florida A&M University with 77.

One of Tech's most successful recruitment projects is FOCUS, an annual event designed to attract the country's finest minority undergraduates to its graduate programs. Each year, approximately 300 African-American students from more than 80 colleges and universities across the nation attend the three-day series of lectures, tours, panel discussions and social events. The program, which is held annually during the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, is now in its thirteenth year.

"Georgia Tech has worked hard to aggressively recruit minority students as early as elementary school and up through graduate school," said Robert Haley, director of special projects in the College of Engineering and creator and coordinator of FOCUS.

"FOCUS and other programs help foster an environment of inclusion and respect on campus and make it clear that Tech values diversity as an important aspect of campus life," Haley said. "Georgia Tech continues to encourage and achieve diversity in the academic setting."

In addition, Georgia Tech has a solid relationship with the historically-black institutions in the Atlanta area that make up the Atlanta University Center ­ Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morris Brown College, Spelman College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and the Interdenominational Theological Center.

Approximately 100 African-American students are currently enrolled in a joint-degree program in which students obtain an undergraduate degree in liberal arts from the Atlanta University Center then move on to obtain an undergraduate degree in engineering from Georgia Tech.

Other programs at Georgia Tech that have been successful at attracting and supporting African-American students are:

SURE (The Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering/Science Program) ­ a 10-week summer research program designed to attract qualified minority students into graduate school in the fields of engineering and science. Approximately 30 students of at least junior-level undergraduate standing are recruited on a nationwide basis and paired with a faculty member and a graduate student mentor to undertake research projects in the College of Engineering, College of Sciences and the Packaging Research Center.

FACES (Facilitating Academic Careers in Engineering and Sciences) ­ a collaborative effort of Tech's Colleges of Engineering and Sciences and Morehouse College to increase the number of African-Americans receiving doctoral degrees and encourage them to become faculty members.

The Georgia Tech Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers—an organization that seeks to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community. It hosts activities including academic retreats, study sessions, dinners for future business owners and an annual career fair.

Black Issues, a publication that covers minorities in American higher education, used statistics collected by the U.S. Department of Education to compile the rankings edition. The special report identifies the top 100 minority degree producers among institutions of higher education and is the only national report of U.S. colleges and universities awarding degrees to African-American, Latino, Asian American and Native American students.

The report was released as a two-part series spotlighting undergraduate and graduate statistics. Graduate and professional degree statistics appear in the July 29 edition of Black Issues. Undergraduate statistics were released in the magazine's June 3 edition.