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Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
Talent Expansion Program

Congratulations upon your acceptance into the engineering and applied sciences program at Western Michigan University. Traditionally, the first-year of college poses the greatest challenge to students. To improve the success rate of our engineering and applied sciences students we are offering you our Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Talent Expansion Program (STEP). WMU is one of the few selected universities to receive a grant from the National Science Foundation to implement this student success program.

As a STEP student you will be placed into a Learning Community led by a faculty who has volunteered to serve throughout the year as your mentor. Your Learning Community will also have an upper-division student assistant who will work along side your faculty member and be your student mentor. Each Learning Community of ~20 students will be placed in a predetermined cluster of 3-to-4 courses, scheduled so the group will have the same class sessions, allowing the Learning Community to learn and work together.

Learning Communities have been shown to increase the success rate of students in the engineering and applied sciences disciplines by helping them successfully make the transition from high school to college and complete their first year of study. The results for 2005-06 show

  • 86% “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement “I know at least 6 students in my classes.”
  • 76% “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement “I enjoy and benefit from studying with other students.”
  • Students achieved a statistically significant higher passing rate in Chemistry I, Pre-Calculus, and Engineering Graphics, and a higher passing rate in Calculus and Physics though at a lower statistically significant level.
  • Learning Communities resulted in 8-17% improvement in 2nd-year retention rate above the average retention rate of the past five years.

To assist you even further with a successful transition to college, you will also have the option of living in the Engineering House, located within Bigelow Hall, a co-ed facility with separate male and female floors. The Engineering House includes on-site tutoring, a computer room, and interaction with faculty, creating a community built on commonality and shared experiences.

We hope you will select Western Michigan University to begin an exciting, challenging, and well-paid career in engineering and applied sciences. Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information about our College and STEP.

Best wishes,

Dr. Edmund Tsang

Associate Dean for Undergraduate
Programs and Assessment

Dana Butt

WMU STEP Director


Contact WMU-STEP
Copyright © 2010 Western Michigan University, All Rights Reserved

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0969287.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.