RIT professor recognized with campus representative awards by engineering society

Research on successes in transfer student recruitment and retention wins ‘Best Paper’ at ASEE regional conference




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Surendra Gupta

The American Society of Engineering Education recognized Surendra Gupta, a professor of mechanical engineering in the Kate Gleason College of Engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology, with two distinguished service awards at the society’s St. Lawrence Section Conference in Buffalo, N.Y., in April.

Gupta was named the St. Lawrence Section’s Outstanding Campus Representative Award winner, a designation given annually to the faculty member who has achieved excellence in his or her role as the society’s representative on campus, acting as a liaison between the campus and the society, determining members’ interests, promoting individual membership and encouraging involvement with members and students. He also was selected as the Zone I Outstanding Campus Representative, the second time Gupta has received this recognition for his role as an outstanding educator, student advocate and researcher.

Gupta also was part of the team that won “Best Paper” for “TiPi Scholars Program for Transfer Students from Two-Year Colleges” at the same conference. TiPi refers to Transfer Pipeline, and the paper focuses on persistence of transfer students into engineering and engineering technology programs. It describes the work Gupta and a multidisciplinary research team from RIT performed to successfully recruit, retain and support transfer students toward degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the STEM disciplines.

The paper describes how the university is addressing the gap between the number of students at two-year schools who state they want to attain bachelor’s degrees and the reality that less than half actually enroll in four-year programs. Additionally, the research work also confirmed which support functions are needed and which compel student persistence to graduation from the four-year institutions.

“We have been focusing on transfer students in the mechanical and electrical engineering programs in the Kate Gleason College of Engineering as well as all the engineering technology programs in RIT’s College of Applied Science and Technology,” says Gupta. “I saw the statistics, and they were amazing. I did not know that less than 30 percent of students from two-year schools go on to four-year colleges. Then you start looking at why more students are not doing this, and you find money comes into play.”

The National Science Foundation grant issued to RIT in 2012 for $599,984 over four years will go toward scholarships for 75 transfer students from two-year schools going into their third year of engineering or engineering technology programs at RIT. It also would cover recruitment and retention initiatives. Additionally, RIT will contribute $50,000 toward the program to cover a possible fifth year, as students in these programs are involved in mandatory co-op experiences. The support, says Gupta, will ensure that the students keep on track toward graduation.

The intent is to recruit 25 transfer students in each year of the grant. For the most recent academic year, the team recruited 25 students, and of this first cohort, all will return for their second year at RIT in the fall.

Gupta co-authored the paper with Vincent Amuso, associate professor of electrical engineering in the Kate Gleason College of Engineering, along with several department chairmen of programs in RIT’s College of Applied Science and Technology, specifically Daniel Johnson, packaging science; Michael Eastman, electrical, computer and telecommunications engineering technology; and John Morelli, civil engineering technology/environmental management and safety.

Gupta has been the ASEE Campus Representative at RIT since 1987. The Pittsford resident has also received an American Society of Mechanical Engineering Curriculum Innovation Award and at RIT, been named an Eisenhart Award winner, the latter given for excellence in teaching.

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Surendra Gupta