The Pact: A framework for retaining 1st year African American Engineering Men

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American Society for Engineering Education


In 2001, the National Science Foundation (NSF) reported that 8.1% of the total science and engineering degrees offered at the baccalaureate level were awarded to African-Americans. In 2004, Caucasian men composed of 69.3% of the science and engineering degrees whereas African-American men accounted for 5.9%.1 African-American men are still disproportionately represented in the engineering and science fields. In order to address this need, Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering has developed The VT PACT, a retention program for first-year African- American men in engineering. The purpose of this paper is two-fold: 1) to discuss how the book titled, The Pact, written by Drs. Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, and Rameck Hunt was used as a framework to develop the The VT PACT and 2) to discuss the impact of The VT PACT for the 2005-2006 academic year and the 2006 fall semester.2 The researchers provide brief background on statistics for African-American men pursuing degrees in engineering, an overview of retention programs geared toward African-American men and an overview of the book, The Pact. Following the overview of The Pact, this paper explains the process used to align The Pact as a framework to set a pact among first-year African-American men in engineering. Then the paper concludes with how The VT PACT impacted the first-year African American males in engineering for the 2005-2006 academic year and the 2006 fall semester and recommendations for future VT PACT cohorts.