2002 Annual

Tuesday, 15 January 2002: 9:30 AM
Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science: A model diversity program
Thomas L. Windham, UCAR, Boulder, CO; and S. Henderson
Science education is rapidly changing. It is becoming more exciting and challenging, and also more accessible. Little more than a decade ago, the dreams of students from historically underrepresented groups to successfully pursue careers in science were admirable, but mostly elusive. Today, while African Americans, Chicano/Hispanic/Latino Americans, and Native Americans make up 25% of the U.S.A. population, these groups combined constitute fewer than 7% of scientists and engineers in the labor force and approximately 3% of the current AMS membership. Achieving the goal of a diverse, internationally competitive, and globally engaged workforce of scientists, engineers, and well prepared citizens calls for different educational goals and strategies. In 1995 UCAR teamed up with NSF and established a program, SOARS, that extends science education and encourages university students from diverse backgrounds to sustain interests, develop skills, and create paths that lead them to careers in the atmospheric and related sciences. SOARS combines research opportunities with a comprehensive mentoring component and a number of other proven learning strategies to create a student (protege) centered learning community. Already more that 60 protégés have traveled this pathway. Three are Ph.D. candidates, nine have attained graduate degrees, 34 have received undergraduate degrees; many are enrolled in graduate programs; several are successfully employed as scientists. SOARS sponsorship has expanded to include DOE, NASA, and NOAA. Though SOARS continues to learn from the experiences of its community of proteges and mentors, results to date suggest that it is a successful model.

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