MENLO PARK, Calif. -Nine public colleges and universities in nine western states will receive William and Flora Hewlett Foundation grants to fund programs to improve the quality of undergraduate education in engineering and to increase the number of engineering students.

These Engineering Schools of the West Initiative grants, ranging from $750,000 to $1.1 million, will support programs to increase retention and recruitment efforts, and to improve student learning through better undergraduate teaching.

The nine schools are Boise State University, Colorado School of Mines, Montana State University, New Mexico State University, Northern Arizona University, Oregon State University, University of Nevada, Reno, University of Utah, and the University of Wyoming.

These institutions, selected for a commitment to rigorous assessment and ability to sustain long-term outcomes, will collaborate to tackle such issues as new ways to assess student learning or how to provide students with a global orientation to engineering problems.

Schools were chosen in part because their programs had the potential of providing a significant “multiplier effect” leading to a change in the institution that would also be instructive to other colleges and universities, said Initiative Director Richard Reis. “We really believe that the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts,” Reis said. “By bringing representatives from the nine schools together on a regular basis the Foundation expects to have a much wider impact on engineering education than would be possible with just stand-alone programs.”

The three- to five-year grants will support programs ranging from summer projects that target high school students from traditionally underrepresented groups to the development of team-based collaborative learning courses that mirror how engineering is done in industry. Others will develop curricula to help engineering students understand the ethical issues and responsibilities of professional engineers.

The awards are being made in honor of William Hewlett, co-founder of the Hewlett Packard company. Mary Jaffe, Hewlett’s daughter and Foundation board member, remembers her father saying that the graduates of the state engineering schools were the backbone of HP’s success.

“The Hewlett Foundation hopes that this initiative will serve as a model for future directions in the improvement of engineering education throughout the United States,” said Hewlett Education Director Mike Smith.

“In memory of Mr. Hewlett, the Foundation is providing assistance to several of these institutions as both a measure of its appreciation for the societal contributions of their engineering alumni and as a way to help improve the quality and quantity of engineering graduates,” Smith said.

The Hewlett Foundation, incorporated as a private foundation in California in 1966, was established by the late Palo Alto industrialist William R. Hewlett, his wife, Flora Lamson Hewlett, and their eldest son, Walter B. Hewlett. The Foundation’s broad purpose is to promote the well-being of mankind by supporting selected activities of a charitable nature, as well as organizations or institutions engaged in such activities. Further information can be found at,

Hewlett Foundation Engineering Schools of the West Initiative
Titles, Summaries, and Quotes by Institution

Boise State University
Award amount: $1,050,000 (four years)
Project title: Overcoming Roadblocks to Introductory Engineering Courses

Through a new integrated engineering curriculum, a network of student support based on supplemental instruction, hands-on activities and projects, an early focus on the development of professional engineering and communication skills, a five-year program for underprepared students, an enhanced set of student and faculty exchanges with ITESM (Monterrey Tech), Guadalajara, Mexico, and a substantial effort in placing students into research laboratories or engineering internships very early in their engineering educational career, Boise State University expects to significantly increase the enrollment, retention, and graduation rate of engineering students.

“Participation in the Engineering Schools of the West Initiative is an opportunity that will benefit Boise State’s engineering program in profound ways. Primarily, it will help us to remain focused on our core mission of providing an education that is accessible to many individuals who would otherwise be denied access to an engineering program because of lack of preparation or the passage of time after high school. In addition, the Initiative provides a framework within which we can interact with highly successful peer institutions in a mutually beneficial manner. I have no doubt that this grant will have positive effects that will reverberate long after the life of the grant itself.”

John Gardner, Professor
Mechanical Engineering Department
Boise State University

Colorado School of Mines
Award amount: $1,167,072 (four years)
Project title: Serving Humanity: Engineers Improving the World Through Regional, National, and International Community Service

Through the development of a community service component for its engineering curriculum that involves modifying existing courses and introducing new engineering courses that convey relevant knowledge and training for service missions, the Colorado School of Mines will teach engineering students how to bring technical knowledge and skill to bear on the real-world problems of the less materially advantaged in order to promote development of the common good.

“The goal of this project is the nurturing of a new cadre of engineers, sensitive to social contexts, committed and qualified to serve humanity by contributing to the solution of complex problems at regional, national, and international levels and locations around the world in need of technical assistance. This goal will be achieved through the development of a humanitarian component for the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) engineering curriculum that will teach engineering students how to bring technical, ethical, and cultural knowledge and skill to bear on the real-world problems of the less materially advantaged. We believe that a widely held perception that engineering has become a source of problems, rather than of solutions to humanity’s welfare, may be a key reason for the steady decline of engineering enrollment over the last decade, as well as the persistent underrepresentation of women and minorities in engineering. Thus we anticipate that a new emphasis on Humanitarian Engineering will help to draw these groups into engineering, and to improve the image of engineering as a profession.”

Joan Gosink, Professor and Division Director
Division of Engineering
Colorado School of Mines

Montana State University
Award amount: $734,580 (three years)
Project title: Designing Our Community

Through enhanced statewide outreach to middle schools and high schools in Native American communities, the building of relationships with teachers, counselors, and administrators within Montana, and the resulting increase in the knowledge of the fields of engineering and computer science, including what steps are involved in preparing for college and these types of careers, Montana State University will significantly increase the recruitment and retention of Native American engineering students.

“We are particularly pleased to enter into this new partnership with the Hewlett Foundation. Montana State University’s selection in the Engineering Schools of the West program will allow us to greatly enhance activities in which we are involved with Native American communities in the western U.S. related to higher education in technical fields. In addition, we will have the opportunity to collaborate with other excellent programs in the West with similar goals of improving the quality of engineering education.”

Robert J. Marley, Ph.D., CPE
Dean, College of Engineering
Montana State University
Bozeman, MT 59717
406-994-2272 (voice); 406-994-6665 (fax)

New Mexico State University
Award amount: $1,098,911 (five years)
Project title: Addressing Barriers to Engineering Students While Engaging the Broader Issues of Engineering Education

Through a program to provide precollege student experiences in science, mathematics, and engineering, a precollege teacher perceptions and student aptitude sampling survey, integrated learning community clusters for incoming freshman, a writing-intensive supplemental course for undergraduates, faculty professional development seminars, and a comprehensive formative and summative evaluation effort, New Mexico State University will address barriers to engineering students while engaging many of the broader issues in engineering education.

“We plan to work in the middle and high school area and possibly involve clustering in the undergraduate level.”

Ricardo B. Jacquez
Interim Department Head
Civil and Geological Engineering
New Mexico State University

Northern Arizona University
Award amount: $1,138,000 (five years)
Project title: The Northern Arizona University Engineering Talent Pipeline

The NAU Engineering Talent Pipeline Program (The Pipeline Program) is a broad and comprehensive infrastructure project designed to identify predegree program target populations, bring mentors and educational resources to these populations, recruit them into a stable culturally sensitive learning environment at NAU Engineering, and provide retention monitoring through their graduation and eventual entrance into the engineering profession.

“The College of Engineering and Technology at Northern Arizona University is pleased to accept and participate with our sister institutions in the Hewlett Foundation’s Engineering Schools of the West initiative. Northern Arizona University is distinguished by many attributes. Not the least amongst them is our commitment to Native American perspectives and sensibilities in the course of fulfilling our mission. With Hewlett support, the College will design, implement, and sustain an Engineering Talent Pipeline to bring increasing numbers of Native and other underrepresented populations into and through an engineering education. Enrollment growth and retention through graduation of increasing numbers of students is a University priority that will be highly catalyzed in the College of Engineering and Technology by the Hewlett award.”

Rand Decker, Professor
Chair, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Northern Arizona University

Oregon State University
Award amount: $1,100,000 (three years)
Project title: Recruiting and Retaining Talented Engineering Students

Through leveraging advances in technology to develop and sustain recruiting efforts targeted at precollege students, especially women, and ethnic minorities; educating faculty about opportunities for innovating curriculum, course development, and teaching through the incorporation and customization of mobile wireless technology in the classroom and laboratory; integrating fundamental engineering theories with real-world engineering challenges in the classroom and laboratory; updating teaching and delivery methods used in fundamental courses across the engineering, mathematics and science curriculum; and assessing the impact of these endeavors on recruitment and retention of engineering students, Oregon State University will significantly improve its recruitment and retention of talented engineering students.

“The Hewlett Foundation grant will enable OSU to accelerate engineering education curriculum modifications and improvements in critical courses, especially those that impact freshman and sophomore engineering students. Courses impacted by this grant include engineering sciences and mathematics, as well as discipline-specific engineering and computer science courses. Every student in OSU’s College of Engineering will take at least two courses that have been improved through the Hewlett Foundation grant. In addition, the Hewlett Foundation grant will be fundamental in supporting three critical COE strategic goals: educate work-ready engineers, develop applications-focused research that is a national asset, and attract and educate the best people.”

Toni Doolen, Assistant Professor
Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
Oregon State University

University of Nevada, Reno
Award amount: $1,150,000 (five years)
Project title: The University of Nevada First-Year Engineering Experience Initiative: A Bridge To and From Problem/Project/Team-Based Learning.

With its College of Education, the University of Nevada’s College of Engineering will completely restructure the first-year engineering experience, bring in Ph.D. candidates from top-tier institutions as internship professors, create a prefreshmen bridging program, and develop a peer coaching system that will increase the quality, quantity, and diversity of its engineering graduates.

“We are excited about the opportunities the Hewlett Foundation grant provides for working with our peer institutions to address the issues of increasing the diversity, quality, and quantity of students graduating with engineering degrees. This grant provides us with the resources necessary to make significant changes in our freshman curriculum, which will impact all of our students, and to develop effective programs for increasing the number of, and retention of, underrepresented students in our engineering programs. Much of our curriculum reform will be focused on the use of problem-based lerning techniques in our first-year engineering courses. This is also a unique collaboration of the Colleges of Engineering and Education to develop and assess programs designed to improve engineering student retention. A significant part of this project focuses on providing preservice teachers an opportunity to participate with engineering students in these problem-based learning engineering courses, which we anticipate will provide more teachers with a better understanding of engineering and how to teach math, science, and technology.”

Ted E. Batchman
Dean, College of Engineering/MS 256
University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, Nevada 89557-0030
Fax: 775-784-4466

University of Utah
Award amount: $1,103,000 (five years)
Project title: A “CLEAR” Approach to an Improved Engineering Education

Through improved communication module development, the addition of modules in required, integrated courses in all departments, and new course development and implementation, Utah State University will graduate students with significantly better skills in communication and the disposition toward strong ethical values. An additional important outcome will be the development of a graduate program in the College of Humanities so that it becomes a national leader in preparing the next generation of communication and writing teachers who are qualified to work in technical and scientific communities.

“The Hewlett grant will mean that in addition to engineering students learning about communication and ethics throughout their curriculum, graduate students in the humanities (in philosophy, the University writing program, and communication) will have the opportunity to learn about engineering. This is a sizable development for M.A. and Ph.D. students in the humanities. As society’s problems and ways of relating become increasingly influenced by technology, opportunities to explore the role of the humanities in a specific and highly technical social setting are invaluable. The University of Utah’s College of Humanities, with this grant, has the opportunity to become a leader in preparing future faculty.

Ann Darling
Associate Professor and Department Chair
Department of Communication
University of Utah

“This grant will let us transform all of our students’ education by giving them solid, extensive training in communication and ethics, important aspects of their education that they will rely on continually as the future leaders of our society. We believe strongly that the decisions made by engineers strongly affect the course of humanity and the fate of our environment. It is our responsibility to educate them appropriately. This grant will let us do so.”

Robert B. Roemer, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Research, College of Engineering
Professor, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering
University of Utah
50 S Central Campus Dr. Rm. 2202
Salt Lake City, UT  84112-9208
(801) 585-5631
Fax:  (801) 585-9826

University of Wyoming
Award amount: $1,150,000 (five years)
Project title: Center for Excellence in Engineering Education: Recruiting, Retaining, and Educating “The Best in the West”

Through the development and delivery of engineering and technology instructional modules for K-12 science and mathematics curricula, thereby providing school children in Wyoming (and the nation) with hands-on exposure to the science, mathematics, and culture of engineering; and by redefining and restructuring the freshman- and sophomore-level science, math, engineering, and computational curricula of the College of Engineering and the Wyoming Community Colleges to provide an efficient, dynamic foundation for captivating and educating our students with the most current topics and technology, the University of Wyoming will significantly increase the recruitment, retention, and quality of engineering students.

“The Hewlett Initiative provides us with a host of opportunities to improve the quality of our undergraduate engineering programs. The breadth of these efforts, from contact with middle school students to reformulating the modes we utilize for delivering engineering science coursework, is supported by the Hewlett commitment to promoting interinstitutional cooperation and sharing. Big things will come from this initiative!”

Jerry Hamann, Associate Professor
Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of Wyoming