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The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's Minority Ph.D. Program has awarded the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering $52,320 to establish a new Program of Exemplary Mentoring (PEM). The program, which will recruit and support highly talented, underrepresented minority Ph.D. students, is ultimately expected to serve as a model for the mentoring of all Clark School Ph.D. students.

The PEM represents a new formal collaboration among the Clark School’s Center for Minorities in Science and Engineering (CMSE) and its Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs and Graduate Programs, Professor Peter Kofinas. It will serve students in all departments and disciplines, an expansion from the Clark School’s legacy Sloan Ph.D. Network in Materials Science & Engineering and Bioengineering (MPHD).

“Our objectives are to increase the number of outstanding minority Ph.D. students at the Clark School, increase the percentage of minority students who earn their doctorates, and decrease the amount of time it takes for them to do so,” says Department of Materials Science and Engineering associate professor Isabel Lloyd, director of the PEM and the Legacy Sloan MPHD Network. “The program will host activities and provide professional development and mentoring that address all three of these goals.”

The activities, which take place starting in the students’ first semester, include networking socials at which they can meet potential peer mentors, funded trips to conferences at which they will be presenting their work, and visits to industrial and government research labs. CMSE will host a series of brown bag lunches and workshops on topics such as adjusting to graduate school culture and selecting an advisor. More formal workshops will focus on career planning, professional speaking and writing, computer modeling, and preparing for qualifying exams.

The Sloan Program also builds on the success and experience of the NSF-sponsored Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship Program administered by CMSE. The new partnership with the PEM program will help CMSE expand its support to reach a broader population of graduate students.

The PEM’s recruiting activities will support the Clark School’s existing programs by sponsoring student visits and focusing on increasing the number of minority students who apply, are recruited, and enroll. CMSE, which recruits at graduate school and employment fairs targeted at minority students, will provide expertise in reaching prospective students, and will host a reception for LSAMP undergraduates at one national professional society meeting per year. The PEM will also collaborate with the Department of Mechanical Engineering’s graduate studies coordinator, Amarildo DaMata, who leads recruitment efforts at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez.

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