Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Low-income students are underrepresented in engineering and are more likely to struggle in engineering programs. Such students may be academically talented and perform well in high school, but may have relatively weak academic preparation for college compared to students who attended better-resourced schools. Four-year engineering and computer science curricula are designed for students who are calculus-ready, but many students who are eager to become engineers or computer scientists need additional time and support to succeed. The NSF-funded Redshirt in Engineering Consortium was formed in 2016 as a collaborative effort to build on the success of three existing “academic Redshirt” programs and expand the model to three new schools. The Consortium takes its name from the practice of Redshirting in college athletics, with the idea of providing an extra year and support to promising engineering students from low-income backgrounds. The goal is to enhance the students’ ability to successfully graduate with engineering or computer science degrees. This Work in Progress paper describes the Redshirt programs at each of the six Consortium institutions, providing a variety of models for how an extra preparatory year or other intensive academic preparatory programs can be accommodated. This paper will pay particular attention to the ways that institutional context shapes the implementation of the Redshirt model. For instance, what do the Redshirt admissions and selection processes look like at schools where students are admitted directly to engineering from high school versus schools where students are admitted after one or two years taking engineering prerequisites at the university? What substantive elements of the first-year curriculum are consistent across the consortium? Where variation in curriculum occurs, what are the institutional factors that produce this variation? How does the Redshirt program fit with other pre-existing academic support services on campus, and what impact does this have on the Redshirt program’s areas of focus? Program elements covered include first-year curricula, pre-matriculation summer programs, academic advising and support services, admissions and selection processes, and financial aid. Ongoing assessment efforts and research designed to investigate how the various Redshirt models influence faculty and student experiences will be described.


For a complete list of authors, please see article.

Copyright Statement

© (2018), American Society for Engineering Education, Proceedings of ASEE Annual Conference (Salt Lake City, UT)