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This paper discusses an all-encompassing approach to increase the number of students in engineering through innovative outreach, recruiting, and retention programs. Prior to adopting these programs, the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at the University of Oklahoma (OU), Norman, experienced a reduction in engineering enrollment similar to the trend that has occurred across the U.S. over the last few years. As a result, the school investigated the key factors that influence selection of engineering as a career path and initiated a corrective program to reverse this trend. The program involves focusing on the present through retention, on the immediate future through recruiting, and on the distant future through outreach. The focus of all of these programs is to mobilize the OU-ECE faculty and student body to present advanced engineering technologies, innovative demonstrations, and hands-on activities at a level that the individual student can understand and appreciate. Student surveys and interviews are used to assess the program qualitatively, and OU-ECE enrollment numbers are used as a quantitative assessment.
Date of Publication: May 2012