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Feature

Rodrigo Molina

The U and 3M want to attract more students like Rodrigo Molina, '05, to careers in engineering.

3M grant supports diversity in engineering

From M, winter 2006

When Rodrigo Molina graduated from the Institute of Technology (IT) last spring he was lauded as Student of the Year, an honors student and a recipient of prestigious scholarships. He was also one of only 154 students of color among the 1,000 students receiving B.S. degrees from IT.

Faced with a nationwide shortage of engineers, 3M and the U are intensifying programs to increase the number of engineering students and foster more diversity. "Women and people of color have been underrepresented in the fields of engineering and physical sciences throughout our country's history," says Roberta Humphreys, IT associate dean for Academic Affairs. "By offering more opportunities earlier in students' education, we can help them overcome barriers and achieve success."

Molina knows how important such opportunities can be. As a student he benefited from programs to promote underrepresented students' academic excellence in engineering, physical sciences, and mathematics. To return the favor, Molina and his friends resurrected the U of M chapter of the Society of Hispanic and Professional Engineers and visited area high schools to encourage young Hispanic students to pursue technology majors. Now graduated, Molina is working as a chemical engineer at Intel in Santa Fe.

The 3M Foundation Retention Initiative supports new components of existing programs, including programs for incoming freshmen and career exploration opportunities for high school students. "The first step is to draw more students into the field in the early years and then make sure they're successful," says Barbara Kaufmann, manager of Education Giving at the 3M Foundation.