Stanley Black & Decker has donated $45,000 to the UConn School of Engineering’s BRIDGE program, which provides academic support to underrepresented students who plan to major in engineering.
The gift will support the intensive, five-week program for incoming freshmen at the University of Connecticut. The residential summer program targets populations that are underrepresented in the engineering field, including African-American, Hispanic, Native American, and female students. Of the 67 students who participated in 2015, 61 percent were women, 58 percent were underrepresented minorities, and 44 percent were low-income.
The program’s goal is to provide academic coursework, a supportive network of mentors, leadership development, and industry visits to local engineering companies throughout Connecticut. All of these activities combine to give participants the confidence and knowledge they need to succeed in the School of Engineering and their careers ahead.
The goal is to encourage more students to pursue an education in engineering as well as in the other STEM fields of science, technology, and math. Both UConn and Stanley are seeking to increase the number and quality of STEM professionals, particularly those who will bring diversity to the workforce.
The program is having an impact. Since 2002, 69 percent of students who participated in the BRIDGE program graduated from the School of Engineering, compared to 57 percent of their engineering classmates. Their success can also be seen on campus and in the community. Most engineering student groups on campus are led by BRIDGE graduates, and BRIDGE students are well represented as volunteers for annual STEM outreach events with high school students. This involvement continues as they graduate and work in the industry, serving as mentors for the next generation of STEM professionals.
“Most people agree that solving problems, especially technical problems, requires special skills and knowledge,” said Kevin McLaughlin, Director of UConn’s Engineering Diversity and Outreach Center. “Typically, these are some of the attributes possessed by scientists, mathematicians, and engineers. Many professionals in these fields recognize that the number of good ideas generated and solutions proposed while trying to solve complex problems are likely to be increased if the people working on the solutions do not come from a monoculture. As the Bridge program director, I am extremely grateful to Stanley Black & Decker for its support of our program.”
Tim Perra, vice president of communication for Stanley Black & Decker, said the company is honored to help UConn with its initiative to bring more diversity to the global engineering workforce.
“The Bridge program serves as a comprehensive track to support students with the needed knowledge, expertise, and support system for them to succeed,” Perra said. “As UConn graduates remain in Connecticut and enter the workforce, we believe that these graduates’ engagement within the community is beneficial and we are fortunate to call them our neighbors.”