Colorado State University College of Engineering Attracting Record Number of Women, Earning National Recognition

More women than ever before are enrolling in Colorado State University’s College of Engineering, which has won a national award for recruiting women to engineering programs.

The university was honored this summer with the Women in Engineering Initiative Award from the Women in Engineering ProActive Network for increasing the number of female students pursuing engineering. The Women in Engineering Initiative Award recognizes an outstanding project or initiative that serves as a model for other organizations.

Kathleen Baumgardner, director of College Strategic Communications at CSU, began the initiative in 2007 to draw more women and other underrepresented students to the college. In that time, the college grew non-residents by 45.7 percent, women by 38.2 percent and students of color by 64.7 percent.

Overall, the college’s enrollment has grown by 27.1 percent since 2006.

“College faculty and staff have worked to increase the academic quality of the college as well as provide additional opportunities for post-graduate work,” Interim Dean Steven Abt said. “Since we’ve seen this increase in women, we’ve added such programs as the School of Biomedical Engineering and expect to see even more dramatic growth in women enrolled in engineering. This fall, we’re expecting to see the largest number of women ever in our programs.”

As the first bioengineering program in the state, Colorado State’s School of Biomedical Engineering has offered master’s and doctoral degrees since 2007 and coursework for more than 11 years. In 2011, it began the first bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering in Colorado. The multidisciplinary school trains students in the development of innovative products to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and also to help improve overall health and patient rehabilitation.

“Engineering enrollments are up at CSU, but the number of freshmen women in all of our programs has doubled,” Baumgardner said. “We try to make sure that prospective female students have an opportunity to ask questions of women currently studying engineering at Colorado State.

“There is a conscious effort to reach out to all prospective students,” Baumgardner said. “Our student ambassadors give one-on-one tours of the college, make phone calls, and send e-mails, trying to answer the various questions of each individual.”

The number of undergraduate minority students increased from 140 in Fall 2006 to 219 in Fall 2010. The college has also focused on recruiting female faculty, growing to eleven tenured female faculty members in Fiscal Year 2011from five in Fiscal Year 2006.

The College of Engineering currently hosts two of the 15 most popular undergraduate degrees at CSU and four of the 15 most popular graduate departments.

About the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN)

WEPAN is the nation’s leading organization and catalyst for transforming culture in engineering education to promote the inclusion and success of diverse communities of women. WEPAN is focused on propelling higher education to increase the number and advance the prominence of diverse communities of women in engineering.