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RIT: Working with city schools to be in the minority-recruiting 'Vanguard' and building the engineering pool

Campbell (left), Simone (center), & Janey (right)
NACME President George Campbell (left) announces a partnership last October with RIT President Albert Simone (center) and City School District Superintendent Clifford Janey (right).

RIT joined the Rochester City School District and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) in a new program designed to identify and develop engineering talent among city students.

Beginning in the fall, RIT expects to admit annually eight to 10 students who have participated in NACME's Engineering Vanguard Program. Vanguard scholars receive intense academic preparation in high school and full tuition and housing scholarships for college. Rather than relying on standardized tests, the Vanguard program uses a rigorous assessment process to determine potential for success.

African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans make up 5.9 percent of the nation's 2 million engineers, according to NACME. Fewer than 1 percent of the nation's freshman engineering students are minorities, and fewer than 10 percent of graduates of engineering colleges in the United States are from these groups. There's also a discrepancy in graduation rates: College completion for minority engineering students nationally is 35 percent, compared to 60 percent for non-minorities.

Rochester City School District is introducing Vanguard in John Marshall, Benjamin Franklin, Wilson Magnet, East and Edison Technical high schools this fall. RIT could receive Vanguard students from Rochester or any other participating high school in the country. RIT is the sixth university to join the program.

"NACME has an impressive track record and an outstanding reputation," said President Simone. "The Vanguard program allows us to provide tremendous opportunities to underrepresented students. At the same time, we take another step toward achieving our goal of a diverse educational environment."