Engineering at Nebraska, Spring 2009
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STEP serves transfer students

STEPWhat's it like for students who transfer into Nebraska Engineering these days? Thanks to the NSF-funded "Strengthening Transitions into Engineering Programs," Nebraska Engineering has made a big STEP forward.

UNL Biological Systems Engineering professor David Jones is principal investigator for the STEP grant, with activities that help the college's transfer students to best make their transitions. The program is now in its second year, Jones said, with five students currently at Nebraska Engineering via STEP-and more to come.

The first year of the program was dedicated to establishing relationships at the state's community colleges-including Midplains, Scottsbluff, North Platte and Southeast-where courses were reviewed for alignment with Nebraska Engineering. With the current cohort of STEP students in the college, efforts now focus on integrating them into life at UNL-including student organizations and research opportunities with faculty, and looking ahead to post-graduation plans.

From an office in UNL's Scott Engineering Center, STEP's part-time staff assistant, Carmen Zafft, connects prospective and current students with helpful resources. Some transfer students, like Johnathan McCoy, a junior who majors in mechanical engineering, take time to help other newcomers.

As ever, the successful transfer student must plan ahead, said JoAnn Moseman, UNL's academic transfer coordinator. The challenge is to find a community at the destination school and a way to get involved.

"STEP is unique," Moseman said. "Targeting students at community colleges, talking to them early, and placing courses in the community colleges help reduce the ‘time-to-degree' for transfer students."

"The fact that we are consciously thinking about the transfer student situation is a great advantage," Moseman said.

"We are trying to help transfer students succeed in our structure," Jones said.

It's definitely a STEP in the right direction.

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